URBANA — A proposal to build a roundabout at the intersection of Race Street and Windsor road is ostensibly dead following a Monday night decision to drop the issue.
A Race and Windsor roundabout is too expensive and there are too many concerns from the public, said Mayor Laurel Prussing. The city council backed her suggestion to drop the issue.
"I think we've given this pretty thorough study; we've heard from the public," Prussing said. "I just don't think it's the appropriate site for a roundabout."
In 2011, a consultant said a roundabout at that location may have cost as much as $851,000 more than if city officials just installed traffic signals.
"The bottom line is we can't afford it at this time," said Alderwoman Diane Marlin, D-Ward 7.
That intersection will still need some work. Public Works Director Bill Gray said city officials will need to figure out how to replace the failing pavement and whether to install traffic signals. That will not happen for at least a year.
Representatives from Clark-Lindsey Village retirement community, which is located on the southeast corner of the Race-Windsor intersection, welcomed the news that there will be no roundabout outside their windows in the foreseeable future.
"The overwhelming opinion of our residents is in opposition to the roundabout at Race and Windsor," said Deb Reardanz, Clark-Lindsey Village president and CEO.
She said residents were concerned a roundabout would make it difficult to get in and out of the facility. Residents spent hours studying the issue, she said, and there has been no lack of discussion.
"It is the most popular topic to be discussed at Clark-Lindsey," Reardanz said.
The city council decision on Monday ends years' worth of discussion around the roundabout proposal. It was first concerned in tandem with a discussion about a roundabout at Florida Avenue and Philo Road.
The city spent $15,000 to have a consultant study both intersection. Almost two years later, they have dropped both proposals.
Clark-Lindsey board Chairman Tom Berns nonetheless thank city officials for their careful and detailed consideration and "careful understanding" of the effect that any intersection changes have on the retirement community.
"The city spent a lot of money at looking at this intersection, and they should have," Berns said.
Gary Cziko, an avid bicyclist who has been pushing for the roundabout, said it is premature to drop the proposal without thinking about the long-term cost savings, like the removal of an expense to replace traffic signals every few decades.
"A strong majority usually opposes the first roundabout in any community," Cziko said, adding that residents usually come around after they try them.
Alderman Charlie Smyth, D-Ward 1, said he is disappointed the city has yet to find a location for a roundabout. He thinks they are safer, particularly at Race and Windsor.
"Because signals are not safer than four-way stops, and because this is such a heavy pedestrian and bicycle crossing area, I will not support a traffic signal in this area," Smyth said.