Route 20 intersection ideas debated in Union

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(Sarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com)
Daniel Howard of Marengo watched a video Tuesday on what the proposed roundabout at Harmony Road and Route 20 would look like while attending a public meeting at Donley's Village Hall in Union.

UNION – Advocates of a traffic signal at Harmony Road and Route 20 were told it would require more money and property than the traffic circle the state put on hold last summer after nearly 300 residents expressed outrage that they were not consulted about the intersection.

More than 200 residents turned out for a public meeting Tuesday at Village Hall Banquets for a comparison between a traffic signal and a roundabout. State transportation officials expect to make a decision on the configuration of the intersection in early spring.

“Both options make the intersection better than what it is today,” said Peter Harment, transportation District 1 programming chief. “We are going to gather all this input and see where we are going to go with this.”

Currently, Harmony Road has stop signs for through-traffic at Route 20.

In the nearly two-hour meeting, Harment and four other state officials said a traditional traffic signal would cost about $1.2 million more than a roundabout and require 2.3 acres more of public right-of-way.

Harment said a roundabout is safer because it would eliminate the possibility of broadside, or T-bone, crashes as drivers flow in and out of traffic circling counterclockwise.

In the past four years, there have been some 30 accidents at the intersection, including a fatal crash, officials said.

State Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, moderated the meeting and urged the state in summer to put the traffic circle on hold. Franks said Tuesday he favors a traditional signal because it would maintain the speed limits on both roads.

“I’m a little concerned about coming off the tollway and going from 55 to 45 and then 25 mph” to enter a roundabout, Franks said. “I like the [traditional] intersection, but I’m keeping an open mind.”

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