By Ethan Colbert
Last week, officials with the Missouri Department of Transportation were in Bowling Green and met with city leaders regarding the possible construction of a roundabout at the intersection of South Court Street, Business Highway 61, and Mo. Hwy. 161.
According to City Administrator Linda Keith Luebrecht, the meeting was productive and answered several questions the city administration had regarding the possible roundabout.
In an interview following the meeting, Luebrecht said the city “absolutely not at the point” to authorize the construction of the roundabout.
Instead, Luebrecht said the city is still in the learning and fact-finding phase.
“We are still trying to figure out whether we can do this or not,” Luebrecht said in a telephone interview with the Times.
According to the city leader, MoDOT presented the city with two options regarding the established cost-share program.
Both options, Luebrecht said, require the city to submit an application for the cost share program.
The deadline for the application is late spring 2019.
Luebrecht said it is not a guarantee that the city would be accepted into the program.
If the city were accepted, then city leaders would need to make a choice regarding how soon the city would like to have the roundabout completed.
According to Luebrecht, MoDOT has already committed funds to projects through 2020 and would likely not be able to help fund the roundabout until 2024 or later.
“We could still be approved for the program, but not get any money until sometime in the next decade,” Luebrecht said.
If the city desires the roundabout sooner, then they have the option to fast track the construction by paying the entire construction and engineering costs.
“If we did this, then we would have to wait until sometime later to receive our portion back in reimbursement,” Luebrecht said.
As a relative newcomer to City Hall, Luebrecht said she understands why some may question whether a roundabout is needed at the intersection.
However, as a longtime resident and native of the Bowling Green community, Luebrecht said she sees the need.
“Is (a roundabout) a necessity? It may be not today, but it will be down the road,” Luebrecht said. “As the city grows and more subdivisions are built along Hwy. 161 it will be even more needed.”
In her interview she added that the intersection becomes backlogged with traffic from 7:40 to 8:15 a.m. as students head to school and from 3:30 to 5 p.m. as students leave the Bowling Green R-I School District campus.
“If you come to that intersection during that time, then you are going to see a back-up of traffic,” Luebrecht said. “It is not just coming from the north or south, but from the east and west too.”