Belleville roundabout ahead of schedule; when will it be finished?

News-DemocratFebruary 26, 2014 

Construction of two roundabout creates new traffic and route challenges in Belleville.

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The roundabout construction at Illinois 15 and Illinois 158 is ahead of schedule and has barely impacted travel for emergency services and children getting to school on time, despite the intersection being closed in most directions.

Roundabout construction is contracted through November but could be done by the end of June, said Tom Borsch, the supervising field engineer for the Illinois Department of Transportation.

The closures this week marked the site's next stage of construction.

"It's the most difficult to the traveling public," Borsch said on Tuesday.

This stage takes ramps from Illinois 15 out of commission, but leaves eastbound ramps to and from Illinois 15 intact. The construction also closes South Belt West from State Street through Gerri Ann Drive -- partly for traffic safety, Borsch said.

"I don't even want to say it's had minimal impact, because we really haven't had any problems," said Ryan Boike, the assistant superintendent at Belleville School District 118.

The school most affected by the closure is Roosevelt Elementary, Boike said.

"So far it hasn't been a big issue," said Donna Altemeier at Roosevelt.

Children have arrived for school on time, and the bus company planned travel ahead of the closures to minimize construction impact on the bus routes.

"When we first implemented it, there were some people down there that were pretty aggravated... Everything is moving smoothly today," Borsch said on Tuesday.

IDOT had tried modified staging, where more lanes were left open during construction, but after monitoring the detours for months found that a significant number of vehicles were not abiding the detour signs.

"It was becoming a nightmare for city of Belleville police, because they felt they had to be there," Borsch said.

One area resident was ticketed in January, before South Belt West was closed, was Fred Beamon.

"I haven't been there (since), one time was enough for me," Beamon said. He said he didn't understand why the road was not marked differently or why the road was not closed sooner. Since the ticket, Beamon doesn't go to the QuikTrip which is the closest station to his home on South 15th Street, and he had been a regular for coffee and gas.

This stage of construction, with its accompanying re-routing of traffic, should last six to eight weeks, Borsch said.

MedStar Ambulance, which is among the emergency transport companies that service St. Elizabeth's Hospital near the construction, also reported minimal impact on its routes from the construction.

Tim Brown, MedStar operations manager, said the ambulance drivers are informed of any street closing, as is the dispatch center.

"All of them pretty well know how to avoid it," he said.

Contact reporter Mary Cooley at mcjones@bnd.com or 618-239-2475.

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