Planning for a roundabout on Orange City’s southeast side is going forward, but when the project could be built is not clear.
Nevertheless, the Orange City Council May 25 voted to continue the design phase for a roundabout at the crossing of East Rhode Island and South Leavitt avenues, even though funding for the construction may not be readily available.
“There’s no money out there guaranteed. We don’t have our eyes on any money,” Council Member Bill O’Connor said.
The city has hired AVCON Inc., an Orlando engineering firm, to design the roundabout. The city will pay $118,334 for the design, which is now about 30 percent complete. The final design is supposed to be completed within a few months.
A roundabout, officials say, would make the intersection safer and facilitate traffic movement during busy travel hours.
“It works,” Orange City Council Member Bill Crippen said, referring especially to the roundabout at the intersection of State Road 44 and Grand Avenue, west of DeLand. “I support it. I think it’s a great project.”
Now a four-way stop, the intersection of South Leavitt and East Rhode Island formerly had stop signs only for drivers on Leavitt Avenue.
Supporters of roundabouts say they are safer than signalized intersections, because drivers slow down and T-bone crashes are rare in roundabouts.
“The roundabout does keep traffic moving, but you have to educate people,” Council Member Martin Harper said.
“Once you put it in there, people will get used to it,” Mayor Gary Blair said.
Council Member Jeff Allebach also favors building a roundabout.
“Stop signs are not a long-term solution,” he said.
Allebach represents Orange City on the River to Sea Transportation Planning Organization, formerly known as the Metropolitan Planning Organization. The TPO advises Volusia County government and the Florida Department of Transportation on priorities for funding, and ranks proposed projects for future funding.
The long-term options for the Rhode Island/Leavitt intersection include installing a mast-arm signal or building a roundabout. A mast-arm signal would cost approximately $800,000, the council was told earlier, but a roundabout may cost approximately $450,000, according to the latest estimate.
“We typically do not know how much a project will cost until we have 90 percent of the design,” City Manager Dale Arrington said.
The City Council voted 5-2 to continue the design of a roundabout. O’Connor and Vice Mayor Kelli Marks dissented.
If or when the planned roundabout is constructed at the intersection, Orange City officials say, traffic will be allowed to pass through the work zone while building takes place.