Construction started Monday on a nearly $2 million dollar project to make changes to the Monument Square roundabout in downtown Urbana.
Crews will first focus their efforts on constructing a truck apron around the center circle. Construction on that portion of the project will last until May 19, and one quadrant of the square is closed to parking during that time.
Urbana Mayor Bill Bean said patience will be key.
“It’s taken us about five years for this project to come to fruition,” he said. “When you’re coming through, you’re going to find some congestion — a lot of construction going on. Just take it easy getting through.”
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Two of the main goals of the project are slowing down traffic in the roundabout and making Monument Square more pedestrian-friendly.
People in the city said it’s difficult in the roundabout’s current state to even cross the street safely at times.
“You can be out in the middle with nowhere to go and cars are flying right by you,” said Monument Square District President, Vicki Deere-Bunnell.
Deere-Bunnell said it’s possible there may be changes to parades and downtown events during construction, so residents should keep an eye out for community postings and signs as the events get closer.
During phase two of the project, slated for May 20 to June 24, crews will be working on the north leg of the roundabout.
Phase three focuses on the east leg, phase four on the south leg, phase five on the west leg and phase six on final paving and milling.
City officials have previously told the Springfield News-Sun that there will be several new additions to the roundabout including flashers at the crosswalks to better signal drivers when someone wants to cross the street, center splitter islands in the middle of the street so pedestrians can stop there if necessary to finish crossing the street safely and physical barriers to better guide traffic and reduce speed.
Some parking in Monument Square may be restricted during construction phases, but the City of Urbana said that at least two out of four parking quadrants will be open at all times.
But Deere-Bunnell thinks the temporary inconvenience will be worth it in the end.
“Once you get past everything, I think it will be a beautiful square,” she said.
Funding for the project comes from an Ohio Department of Transportation Safety Grant, an ODOT Small Cities Grant, an ODOT Urban Resurfacing Grant and funds from the Ohio Public Works Commission for water main replacements.
Construction is scheduled to run through October.
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