Downtown Urbana roundabout to get $1.3M upgrade

Urbana is planning to make significant improvements to their roundabout in the center of town. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Urbana is planning to make significant improvements to their roundabout in the center of town. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

A roundabout that pushes more than 25,000 vehicles through downtown Urbana every day will get a $1.3 million facelift beginning next spring, city officials said this week.

The roundabout was installed in 2009 as a way to prevent traffic backups and improve safety, said Tyler Bumbalough, city engineer. The improvements set to begin in the spring are expected to improve lighting, make downtown safer for pedestrians and slow traffic approaching the intersection to further improve safety. He said the project has been successful and the improvements expected to be made throughout the year will build upon what's already in place.

“We’ve had good acceptance of it as people have gotten used to it,” Bumbalough said. “We’ve definitely seen the benefits of moving traffic through there better.”

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City council members are expected to start the bidding process for contractors in January or February, and Bumbalough said the majority of the work should be completed by the end of August. A contractor from the Ohio Department of Transportation is expected to finish some of the paving to complete the improvements.

The project will also cover the cost to replace deteriorating water lines downtown while the work is taking place.

“This doesn’t just include Monument Square,” Bumbalough said. “It’s also one block in each direction.”

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The bulk of the funding for the project, about $688,000, is split between an Ohio Small Cities grant and a separate grant from ODOT, he said. The costs for the water line replacement will be paid for through a zero-percent loan for about $404,000 from the Ohio Public Works Commission. The remainder, about $300,000, will be paid for from the city through a variety of funds, Bumbalough said.

The work will be completed in phases to provide access to businesses. Pedestrians will be able to access the square while the work is being completed, he said. Currently, painted lanes direct drivers through the traffic circle and provide crossing routes for pedestrians through downtown.

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The costs to install the roundabout were relatively minimal in 2009, with the idea that if the project wasn’t successful the intersection could go back to a more traditional four-way intersection, Bumbalough said. This project will make the roundabout a more permanent part of downtown Urbana.

“We’re changing it from a striped roundabout to a modern roundabout,” Bumbalough said.

The upgrades will include installing concrete barriers that are designed to slow traffic down as it enters the intersection, and better direct vehicles through the square. Concrete islands will also be installed to provide an island for pedestrians as they cross intersections downtown. The curbs at pedestrian crosswalks will also be closer to the edge of the road, meaning pedestrians will have a shorter distance to walk through the intersection to improve safety.

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Flashing traffic beacons will also be installed to make drivers more aware that a pedestrian wants to cross the intersection. Additional landscaping will be added to make the downtown intersection more attractive.

Notice of the road closures will be posted at least two weeks in advance for each phase of the project.

“We’re not closing downtown when we do this project,” Bumbalough said. “We’re trying to maintain pedestrian and parking access as best we can.”