Construction on Belleville’s newest roundabout is set to begin next summer.
The roundabout is planned for the intersection of South Freeburg Avenue and South Belt East where drivers now deal with a flashing red light and traffic backs up at rush hour.
City Engineer Tim Gregowicz said the main funding source for the project comes from a $1 million federal grant the city received about four years ago.
On Monday night, the Belleville City Council approved paying additional design engineering fees of $98,500 to Belleville-based Kaskaskia Engineering Group because the plans have been changed several times to meet requests from the Illinois Department of Transportation and nearby property owners.
Kaskaskia originally was awarded $108,000 in 2011 for the design engineering, bringing their contract to $206,500.
Gregowicz said traffic will be allowed to flow through the interchange while construction is underway.
If the plans are approved by IDOT and work begins next summer, the entire project would be finished in 2017.
Gregowicz said before twin roundabouts opened last year on Illinois 158 at the interchange with Illinois 15, people would raise doubts about whether it would work out.
But now that motorists have been using the two roundabouts, he gets “nothing but compliments” about the new road configuration.
“Those really turned out great,” he said.
The federal government issued Belleville the grant for the South Freeburg and South Belt East roundabout in an effort to reduce traffic congestion and pollution.
Cars idling while waiting to get through the intersection produce more air pollution than a stream of cars rolling through a roundabout. IDOT also has reported that drivers using the roundabout are expected to have fewer accidents as compared to the number of crashes in the current intersection.
Gregowicz said the federal grant will pay for 80 percent of the project and the city is expected to pay 20 percent but this amount has not yet been finalized.
He also said IDOT has agreed to pay $150,000 for the roadwork.
For the second time this month, residents who live near Lindenwood University-Belleville spoke to aldermen about their concerns with the number of students who live in homes near the West Main Street campus.
At 7 p.m. Thursday, the Zoning Board of Appeals is scheduled to hear Lindenwood’s request for special use permits for 36 homes and apartment buildings. The zoning board meets in the City Council chambers in City Hall at 101 S. Illinois St.
The City Council has the final say on Lindenwood’s request and that vote could be taken on Oct. 5.
The buildings are on West Main Street, Creston Arms Court, South 21st Street, South 27th Street, South 29th Street, West A Street, Godfrey Street and Sassy Lane.
One of the primary complaints by the residents is that Lindenwood is allowed to have three to 16 students in a building and the residents want to cap that number at three, which is the usual limit for unrelated adults in a Belleville home.
Residents also said they are dealing with more noise, litter and traffic since the students moved into their neighborhood.
Mayor Mark Eckert told the residents that he and city employees continue to review the questions raised this month.