Urbana drops roundabout proposal for Olympian/Lincoln intersection

URBANA — The ever-controversial saga of the Olympian Drive extension eastward may have closed another chapter on Monday night.

On the advice of the Champaign County Board, the Urbana City Council agreed to drop its proposal to build a roundabout where Olympian Drive will intersect Lincoln Avenue north of the city. But council members weren't too enthusiastic about it.

"I have a sense that the Urbana City Council is a little more progressive than the county," said Alderman Dennis Roberts, D-Ward 5. "And maybe they'll catch up."

The proposed roundabout has been the latest Olympian Drive-related disagreement among Champaign County politicians. The debate pitted the city, which has authority over the design of the road, against the county board, which holds the eminent-domain power to allow the project to move forward.

In May, the county board approved a resolution suggesting the city not build the roundabout. On Monday, the city council agreed to send a letter back to the county board announcing Urbana's intent to drop its roundabout proposal.

That didn't stop them from telling everyone else how they really feel.

"The county board's position is not correct," said Alderman Eric Jakobsson, D-Ward 2. "I think that all the evidence is that a roundabout there would be safer, would be more efficient in terms of moving traffic."

Jakobsson made one suggestion: That before Mayor Laurel Prussing sends the letter, she change one line that "the Urbana City Council agreed with the resolution's advice."

"I'm trying to think of language that will say we don't agree with it, but we'll accept it or whatever," Jakobsson said.

Prussing said officials need to start procuring the land to build the road.

"I don't want to hold up the entire project because we had a disagreement with the county board on the value of roundabouts," Prussing said.

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Orbiter wrote on July 10, 2012 at 1:07 am

Really sad to see the roundabout being killed off. Honestly, I was among the skeptics a few months back, seeing only the short-term cost and letting my limited experience with roundabouts dissuade me.  But reading the well-articulated arguments in the reader comments of recent previous News-Gazette articles has really been enlightening. The logic and rationale favoring roundabouts are sound and inescapable, and now I would staunchly support their construction.  I want to thank those responders for a comprehensive, civil discussion.

Just as modern roundabouts are corrective for wasteful 4-way stops and traffic signals, and an appropriate response to the human nature of drivers responding to those poor, older solutions, we must also be mindful that our elected officials will respond to the feedback from their constituents, even when based upon false-economy, emotion, and fear.  It will take some leadership to educate our population on the wisdom of modern roundabouts, so that their implementation becomes more palatable to the masses.  People often act against their own self-interest, but that can be mitigated through education.

The commentaries here among the News-Gazette readers was a good starting point. Not only should these opinions be relayed to elected officials, but they also need to be discussed & disemminated among the population at large.

parkmymeterelsewhere wrote on July 16, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Orbiter's statement that Taxpayers of this area lack the perception to grasp the wisdom of a roundabout is the most ridiculous, self-servng statement made so far on "all-way" intersections that include farmers, landowners as well as so-called progressives.

Progress is reflected in the Board's decision to not  agree to rural roundabouts--THAT"S

PROGRESS toward upscale farming--after all--isn't Urbana still a farming community where a farmer can still drive a tractor into town on saturday and get an ice cream cone?

Or do the progressive council members discriminatingly turn their noses up to the Farmers of this area who really work harder than all of these council members while taxing them for their use of bio fuel to produce food on their tables?

shurstrike wrote on July 10, 2012 at 8:07 am

The roundabouts work well in and have been well-received in Oshkosh, WI, but not in Urbana, IL? 

Way to go Urbana.  I never thought I'd see Oshkosh leaving Urbana scratching it's head in the 20th century.

rsp wrote on July 10, 2012 at 9:07 am

I was in Ireland a couple years ago and they are pretty standard. Came home and wondered why everyone spent so much time stopped at corners wasting gas. I was there ten days and didn't do any driving and I could see the difference in efficiency. 

Are you kidding wrote on July 10, 2012 at 1:07 pm

We the tax payers of Urbana are not totally against the round-a-bouts. We are totally against the intersections that the 'powers that be' have stupidly selected. Too much time and money have gone into picking intersections that never should have been even a thought to convert. Driving in Urbana-Champaign is bad enough with the bad drivers that don't follow the rules of the road. If the day actually ever comes and everyone drive rights, then maybe, a round-a -bout here and there would be OK. That day is not coming any time soon, believe me!

parkmymeterelsewhere wrote on July 16, 2012 at 1:07 pm

roundabout facts:

rural farmland location vs. mentioned locations

larger amount of land needed for a roundabout

double the cost for a pre-existing intersection already paid for and past costs already incurred the the intersection's maintenance.

cost of skyrocketing farmland

last but not least:  brainwashed council members led by the goad lady's warped visual sensitivity.

destructioneer's addiction to oil and asphalt