URBANA — Reducing Windsor Road to two travel lanes and building a roundabout at its intersection with Race Street would eventually cause long traffic jams during peak hours, according to a Champaign County Regional Planning Commission study.
The data were presented to the Urbana City Council on Tuesday night as a follow-up to their more detailed discussion on roundabouts earlier this year.
City officials say Windsor Road is deteriorating badly and will need to be rebuilt — a project that is probably at least several years out — but council members in February said they wanted to consider all options as they look toward retooling the Windsor Road corridor.
One option considered was a "road diet," which would take Windsor Road's four travel lanes and reduce them to three — one travel lane in each direction and a middle turn lane. Senior transportation engineer Sharif Ullah said that would force traffic onto Curtis Road, a street unsuitable to handle urban traffic, and onto Florida and Lincoln avenues, campus routes where planners discourage adding to traffic.
Planners also looked at the effect of placing a single-lane roundabout at Windsor and Race. The regional planning commission's computer simulation of the effects was convincing — by the time the area becomes further developed and population increases toward 2040, you could expect traffic backups stretching blocks.
What the intersection could use right now, Ullah said, is a traffic signal as opposed to its current four-way stop.
Tuesday night's discussion was a follow-up to a weeks-long debate on the benefits of roundabouts. The city council earlier this year explored building roundabouts at the Windsor-Race intersection and at Philo Road and Florida Avenue.
The Philo-Florida roundabout was abandoned after people with disabilities who frequent the nearby PACE Center for Independent Living said the roundabout would be difficult to cross for people in wheelchairs and those who have visual and hearing disabilities.