Another roundabout for Belleville: Where will it be?

News-DemocratSeptember 30, 2013 

— The four-way stop at South Belt East and Freeburg Avenue in Belleville will be replaced with a roundabout to improve air quality and reduce crashes at the intersection.

The bulk of construction for the project will be paid for with a federal grant through the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality improvement program.

The grant will pay for 80 percent of the estimated $1 million project. The city of Belleville is responsible for a 20 percent match.

Belleville City Engineer Tim Gregowicz said a roundabout will keep traffic flowing where Illinois 13/158 meets Illinois 177 by the Belle-Clair Fairgrounds.

"If you drive anywhere near that area during peak hours, you see cars backed up all the way over the railroad tracks to the fairgrounds," Gregowicz said. "Those cars are sitting there idling, polluting the environment."

The city applied for the federal CMAQ program and was rated the highest of three St. Clair County projects in the running for cost-effectiveness, Gregowicz said.

This means the project will reduce the most metric tons of hydrocarbon per $1 million spent on construction.

The roundabout should also reduce the number of crashes between South Church and Caroline streets.

According to Illinois Department of Transportation Safety Data Mart crash data, there were 21 crashes there between 2008 and 2010. Most were rear-end crashes, and many of the drivers were exceeding the speed limit or ignoring a stop sign.

A roundabout would reduce such crashes by reducing travel speed through the intersection. The speed limit will be changed from 35 mph to 25 mph.

At a roundabout, motorists should slow down and yield at the entry to circulating traffic.

Geri Boyer, of Kaskaskia Engineering, said IDOT approved funding for the roundabout last year.

Boyer said her firm has submitted the project development report, which IDOT is reviewing, and the firm will begin engineering plans after the report gets approval.

Construction is on hold because of all the other work going on in Belleville, with the double roundabout being built where Illinois 158 converges with Illinois 13 and 15, and the bridge reconstruction on Illinois 15.

Tom Borsch, an IDOT supervising field engineer, said the $4.7 million double roundabout project at Illinois 158 and Illinois 13/15 is ahead of schedule.

Workers are aiming to finish the southern roundabout by the end of October, Borsch said.

At that point, the roundabout, and the on and off ramps for eastbound Illinois 15, will be open to motorists.

"Then we'll do some work to restage traffic and then work on tying that northern roundabout into all legs of traffic," Borsch said.

The northern roundabout is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014.

The $14.5 million project to demolish and replace the overhead bridge where Illinois 13 passes underneath Illinois 15 is in its first stage, Borsch said.

Crews have demolished the eastbound bridge, meaning both eastbound and westbound traffic are currently using lanes on the westbound side.

Once workers do ground improvements and build the new eastbound bridge, then motorists will switch over to the new bridge and crews will repeat the process on the westbound bridge.

The bridge project is expected to be completed by winter 2014.

Contact reporter Jacqueline Lee at jlee@bnd.com or 239-2655. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BNDBelleville.

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