URBANA — Five months after Urbana residents with physical or visual disabilities told the city council that installing a roundabout at the Flordia Avenue and Philo Road intersection would cause problems, city officials are circling the issue again.
The council will revisit a discussion on roundabouts at two Urbana intersections when it meets on Monday at 7 p.m. in the Urbana City Building, 400 S. Vine St.
In August, a consultant told the council that, while there's no question that installing roundabouts at the Florida-Philo and Windsor-Race intersections would make them safer, installing such a traffic control might not make financial sense at Windsor and Race.
On the same night, residents who frequently travel to and from the PACE Center for Independent Living — which is near the Florida-Philo intersection — told council members that roundabouts disrupt the audible and tactile cues they use to cross traditional intersections safely.
The PACE Center for Independent Living is about half a block west of the Philo-Florida intersection, which means blind or low-vision pedestrians are crossing there frequently.
City administrators will return to the council on Monday night with new suggestions on how the situation might be approached. In a memo to council, city engineers tell the council that the research is in its beginning stages, but there are devices that can assist the visually and physically impaired in crossing the circular intersections.
The traffic signals at the two intersections are scheduled for improvements anyway, and city officials have presented these to the council as crossings that might be suitable for the installation of roundabouts.
The council has also agreed to hear extended testimony from Gary Cziko, an Urbana resident and the chairman of Champaign County Bikes. He said he plans to tell the council that installing roundabouts makes financial sense for both intersections. He will also present research that shows certain roundabout designs do not appear to create difficultly for blind or low-vision pedestrians.
In either case, installing roundabouts is expected to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the scheduled improvements to the traditional intersections, but Cziko said the initial construction costs would be more than offset by the reduction in costs associated with traffic accidents.