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New MO Roundabout Proving Unpopular With Truckers

Fri December 05, 2003 - National Edition

PERRYVILLE, MO (AP) A new concrete roundabout in southeast Missouri is frustrating truckers, who claim it is a highway hazard and a waste of tax dollars.

The roundabout opened 12 days ago at U.S. 61 and Main Street in Perryville. Truckers claim it is difficult to navigate large rigs around the oval-shaped interchange. Tires of large trucks routinely scrape the roundabout’s inner curb. One truck even got stuck on the curb, highway officials said.

"You are either going to rub tires on the curbs or tires will be up on the inside island," said Brad Krauss, co-owner of Krauss Trucking in Perryville. One of his trucks blew a tire in the roundabout on Sunday.

Because of the complaints, the Missouri Department of Transportation plans to widen the 18-ft. (5.5 m) wide concrete driving lane of the roundabout by as much as 12 ft. (3.7 m) in some spots.

Penzel Construction Co. of Jackson built the Perryville roundabout as part of a $4.5 million U.S. 61 widening project that began in June and is expected to be completed by next summer. It replaced a four-way stop with a flashing red traffic signal.

The roundabout will be closed for at least five days, beginning Dec. 8, while Penzel widens it. MoDOT estimates it will spend $20,000 to $30,000 to fix the problem.

This is the fourth roundabout to be built on the state highway system. More are planned.

"Certainly we will learn from it," said Scott Meyer, MoDOT district engineer.

Perryville’s roundabout also has drawn criticism from officials at Gilster-Mary Lee Corp., a food manufacturer that has plants in Perryville and ships its products by truck.

The roundabout is too small for the company’s large trucks, said Delbert Dethrow, vice president of transportation.

It’s a problem for farmers, too. Farm combines can’t travel in the roundabout without jumping the curb, Dethrow said.

"I don’t see any advantage over the four-way stop," he said.

The roundabout has some supporters. Larry Buff, who owns the Buff Motors car dealership that sits near the roundabout, said car and pickup truck drivers travel through the interchange without any problem, and traffic doesn’t back up like it did at the four-way stop.

"It just takes a little getting used to," Buff said.