Columbus Council voted Tuesday to spend $338,000 to build a peanut-shaped roundabout at the intersection of 18th Avenue and Garrard Street at the northwest corner of Lakebottom Park.
Deputy City Manager David Arrington called the current setup at the intersection "extremely confusing" and said the roundabout should make it a safer place for drivers and pedestrians.
Garrard runs roughly east and west and 18th roughly north and south. Drivers heading east on Garrard face a stop sign, but going west can drive through unimpeded in any direction. Drivers on 18th headed south face a stop sign, but going north they face a stop if going straight or left, but a yield sign if turning right onto Garrard.
Councilor Judy Thomas said she had heard from some residents who are opposed to the project.
"They've been concerned about the need for a roundabout, they've been concerned about the amount of money we'd be putting into it," Thomas said. "The folks who have talked with me about this say they live in the area and go through that intersection regularly and some of them are vehemently opposed to the roundabout."
Deputy City Manager David Arrington said the city held a public hearing at St. Elmo School, which faces the intersection. He said it resulted in "one of the most positive responses to a public project that I've ever seen."
"We had 40 people there who actually turned in a written response to the project," he said. "Of those 40, 36 or 37 were extremely positive. So, we decided to move ahead with the project."
Arrington said the city engineers considered rebuilding the intersection, putting in a traffic signal and the roundabout.
"Looking at those three options, the roundabout seemed to be the most practical to move forward," he said. "We felt like in addition to improving safety, it would improve traffic flow by clearly defining the traffic and be a much more attractive element to that end of the park."
Landmark Grading Co. of Fort Mitchell, Ala., was the low bidder on the contract, which includes providing all grading, sidewalks, handicapped ramps, curbs, gutters, driveways, storm drain pipes, pavement marking, irrigation system and landscaping.
During construction, Landmark is required to maintain access to all businesses and houses in the area and to maintain normal traffic flow.
The project will require using a slice of the grassy area between the road and the St. Elmo School parking lot, which the school district recently agreed to give to the city, Arrington said.
Roundabouts, which are much more common in Europe than in the U.S., require drivers to yield to any traffic coming from the left. The most noticeable one in Columbus is at Warm Springs and Blackmon roads.