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City council approves roundabouts for south Columbia

In a 6 to 1 vote, Columbia’s city council approved two roundabouts to be built in the south part of the city.

The plan is to put the roundabouts on Nifong Boulevard with one at Sinclair Road and the other at Old Mill Creek Road at the cost of $2.5 million.

Columbia Public Works want to cut down on the delays faced at both intersections, and said the roundabouts will make it quicker and safer for pedestrians, but not everyone was convinced with the safety angle.

Many residents spoke about how it would affect Mill Creek Elementary travel. Several children cross the street for drop off and pick up, and people fear the roundabouts would not slow traffic for those crossings.

National studies have shown less wrecks occur at roundabouts compared to four-way stops, but one Mill Creek parent said the roundabout doesn’t solve the safety issue of lighting Nifong and Sinclair to make the crosswalk there more visible.

“Roundabouts are coming, (I) got no problem with that,” said Columbia resident John Karle. “But you’ve got to first look at the safety issues and go from there.”

Councilman Ian Thomas voted against the plan, citing the cost.

“Delays of one or two minutes during the peak hour, I don’t believe warrant two and half million dollars of investment,” Thomas said.

Other council members said they project was necessary for the future growth of the area. Matt Pitzer, the councilman who represents the area, said Columbia Public Schools would hopefully help them with future road projects as they plan a new middle school at Nifong and Sinclair. The current four-stop set-up is currently unsafe. The roundabout, he said, would hopefully slow cars down as they make their way around it.

“I can’t tell you how often you see cars, they get to that stop sign and they’ve been waiting, and when they see open road, they just floor it,” Pitzer said.

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