University City testing out roundabout on Delmar Blvd.

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UNIVERSITY CITY, MO (KTVI)-- There is going to be a major change to traffic patterns in the Delmar Loop.  University City officials will install a traffic circle or roundabout at the intersection of Delmar and Trinity, near the well known “lion’s gates” on the west end of the loop.

“Safety has been a big issue in the area,” University City Public Works Director Rich Wilson said.  “As you look at Delmar, getting across four lanes of traffic is difficult.   So the roundabout will make it a lot safer.”

Work will begin next Tuesday on a temporary roundabout, intended to give drivers, residents, and officials a look at how a roundabout might work in the spot.  Wilson says the idea of a “practice run” came to him after critics questioned the impact of the roundabout on traffic in the area, and even the aesthetic effect on the historic part of U-City across from City Hall.

He says if there are unexpected problems, they might have to look for a “plan B.”  But that’s not expected, and Wilson says there has been a need for change for years.  He points out a pedestrian was killed about ten years ago, and that’s not all.

“Just recently as we were marking out the roundabout, the location of it, the surveyor was hit, too, from traffic,” he said.  “Numerous car accidents.  As I sit in my office, I can hear a lot of screeching.  People pulling out, maybe near misses.”

Drivers in the area seem fairly receptive to the idea, though some wonder about the idea of having the temporary roundabout first.

“I’m a little scared about that,” Lindsey Toler said.  “I mean a practice is so you can make mistakes and we don’t want people making mistakes in a roundabout.”

But others like the idea.

“I’d rather them spend a little money than a whole lot.  See how it works out,” Jim O’Donnell told us.

Delmar will be closed for three days as the temporary roundabout goes in, beginning next Tuesday.  From there, it will be in place and analyzed for at least thirty days, though officials say they could leave it there until October.

If all goes as planned, they expect to install the permanent roundabout sometime in 2014.  It’s being paid for as part of the Loop’s trolley project.

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