Subscribe for 99¢

A roundabout at Old Halls Ferry Road and Vaile Avenue — the first such configuration by the St. Louis County Department of Transportation — took a circuitous route to get built.

The idea of it provoked so many objections from neighbors in 2010, county officials postponed the project.

Roundabouts, which are are circular intersections in which traffic is funneled counterclockwise around a central island, were then largely unfamiliar to St. Louis area drivers. They still are in many parts of the region.

So county officials decided more work was needed to convince people that such a setup was a good fit for the intersection in north St. Louis County near Florissant, and launched a campaign to teach about roundabouts, said David Wrone, a department spokesman.

That effort included a meeting at Hazelwood Central High School in June 2011 that drew hundreds, where department officials used computer modeling and data from other cities to allay concerns, he said.

It was followed by meetings with neighborhood and community groups. But other projects, and limited staff, took precedence over getting the roundabout built.

So it was shelved until March 2015. The $1 million roundabout that opened eight months later was substantially the same as what was proposed back in 2010, Wrone said.

That intersection, where about 10,000 vehicles travel on an average weekday, had been a four-way stop. But traffic backed up, and that volume isn’t enough to warrant a signal.

The new roundabout includes marked crosswalks on four sides, with medians for pedestrians, and native plants in the island.

St. Louis County Police Capt. Guy Means, the North County precinct commander, said accidents had been cut down since the roundabout opened.

“It keeps the traffic moving,” said St. Louis County Councilman Mike O’Mara, who represents the area.

Nichalos Gardner, director of the county department, said other locations were being considered for roundabouts but nothing had been decided.

The Missouri Department of Transportation’s first roundabout in the St. Louis area came in 2002, at Highway 141 and Woods Mill Road in west St. Louis County.

Since then, more have been installed around the region — most recently at Interstate 70 and Highway Z in Wentzville.

The configuration also was added as part of a $13 million project on Natural Bridge Road near the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus.

Another roundabout is planned in St. Charles County as part of the project at the Fairgrounds Road interchange. It eventually will become the eastbound Interstate 70 exit, MoDOT said.

And two more are planned on the Highway 141 outer roads that are part of the design-build project at Interstate 44.

That project will include another unfamiliar traffic configuration to St. Louis drivers — the through-turn, in which drivers pass the road they want to turn onto and instead loop to an outside lane at the signal to make the turn.

this week

Construction is set to begin next summer on a project that will span Highway 61 in St. Charles and Lincoln counties. But exact details of what’s being proposed are yet unknown — MoDOT said it was tweaking its recommendations, which will be available at a meeting set for Thursday.

MoDOT has highlighted five problematic intersections on the road — at Peine Road, Highway P, Grothe Road and the two at Granville Road — that have high crash rates because of fast-moving and high-volume traffic that makes it difficult for cars to merge in and out of traffic.

Local officials began earlier this year a campaign to urge MoDOT to erect cable barriers on the road between Wentzville and Troy. The push came after a crash on Jan. 21 that killed a woman and her two young daughters.

The open-house meeting is set from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at the William R. Cappel Elementary School, 121 Hampel Road in Moscow Mills.

There won’t be a formal presentation, so stop in at any time and ask questions.

And on June 4, Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard in St. Louis is set to reopen to two-lane traffic. The road, which runs along the Mississippi River under the Gateway Arch, has been under construction and closed in chunks since November 2013.

Great Rivers Greenway, the regional parks and trails district, began construction on the road as part of the ongoing $380 million CityArchRiver project. The work included elevating the boulevard 2.5 feet in an attempt to raise it above most of the river’s floods smf adding separate biking and walking lanes along a 1.5-mile stretch, as well as new lighting, landscaping and public spaces.

A “Picnic on the Riverfront” along the boulevard just below the Arch is set from 5 to 8:45 p.m. Thursday to celebrate the reopening of the new riverfront, and will include a 2,016-foot-long table and chairs.

Food trucks and other vendors will be there, and you can bring a picnic. An interfaith blessing is set to kick off dinner at 6:15 p.m., followed by an aerial photo of the picnickers.

Leah Thorsen is a regional reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Email her at lthorsen@post-dispatch.com and follow her on Twitter: @leahthorsen