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Columbia residents voice concerns on Chapel Hill and Fairview Road roundabout

Columbia Public Works met with residents to show plans for a roundabout at the intersection of Chapel Hill and Fairview Road Thursday.

The intersection is rated “F” in level of service, according to public works, which means it has potential to back up traffic during peak hours.

Installing a roundabout would bring that rating up to a “B”. But a majority of residents at the meeting ABC 17 News spoke to said they were skeptical of the project.

“If we can do an improvement that’d make it more efficient and more safe, it reduces fuel costs, helps the environment because there’s less carbon emissions, things like that are what we’re looking for,” Columbia Public Works Engineering Manager Richard Stone said.

Construction on the 110 foot roundabout is set to start in 2017. The project would cost about $600,000. That money would come from the Capital Improvement Sales Tax voters approved last August.

Many residents who attended the interested parties meeting at Fairview Elementary School said they were concerned with it affecting pedestrian safety.

“At least with the stop signs, people know they have to slow down,” Columbia resident Ann Vellek said. “But if you put in a roundabout at that situation, people know all they have to do is keep going and merge onto the roundabout.”

But public works said a roundabout would make it safer for pedestrians.

“What roundabouts do is physically create a barrier for cars so they can’t enter at speed,” Stone said. “And I like to think of it as more cushion for error.”

Other concerns residents shared with ABC 17 included a decrease in property values and drivers not being able to slow down enough on the hill in icy conditions.

Vellek said she would rather see a setup like the intersection of Forum and Green Meadows with turning and merger lanes.

“I think that that would be a lot safer for most of the people in the community,” Vellek said.

Fourth Ward Councilman Ian Thomas was also at the meeting listening to input and concerns from residents about the roundabout.

Public works will present the plans to city council after considering the input they received Thursday.

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