‘Bad for our community’: Oakville residents loudly oppose proposed roundabout near two schools

Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 10:31 PM CST
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OAKVILLE, Mo. (KMOV) - South St. Louis County residents came out in force on Wednesday evening to oppose a proposed new roundabout at Milburn and Yaeger Road in Oakville.

The county is aiming to make the intersection, currently a four-way-stop, safer by adding in a roundabout that they say requires drivers to slow down and look only in one direction.

But those in the neighborhood don’t believe it’s a great idea.

“If people cannot grasp the concept of a four-way intersection, how are they going to grasp the concept of a roundabout?” said Brad Tonkel.

Tonkel has lived near Yaeger and Milburn for most of his life. While Tonkel said the road could use some safety improvements, he doesn’t think a roundabout is the way to go.

“With everything else that’s going on, if we as an organized society aren’t able to deal with a four-way intersection and try to dig up the earth and recalculate everything, I just have problems with that,” said Tonkel.

First Alert 4 spoke with Tonkel before a meeting on the proposed roundabout, and then we walked inside, and it was apparent quickly, that almost nobody wanted a roundabout.

“And this will make them go even faster!” said Ed Dirnbeck during a question and answer session.

There were concerns it would increase traffic as well as worries about the $2.3 million price tag of the project.

“I just think it’s money not well spent,” said Griff Caldwell.

And even worries that high school kids will do donuts at night.

County officials, including Joe Kulessa, said the federal government will cover 70% of the project. The intersection is a top ten dangerous intersection in the county.

“The number of crashes that happen is disproportionately high,” said Kulessa.

According to federal and statewide data, there were no roundabouts in the state of Missouri until the turn of the 21st century.

Now, there are 365 roundabouts across the state, just put in by the Missouri Department of Transportation alone.

According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, they reduce crashes by 39% and cut fatalities by 90%.

The proposed roundabout is right next to Oakville Elementary School, and kids are going to be crossing the street before and after school. County officials said a roundabout will make their trek safer.

“They only ever have to watch for vehicles from one direction during that crossing,” said Kulessa.

Despite showing statistics and studies, those at the meeting remained unconvinced.

“I know it’s going to be bad for our community,” said Dirnbeck. “We’re progressive people out here, we’re not against things, it’s just we don’t need this.”

County Councilman Ernie Trakas was at the meeting and told the audience that if they want to see the project canceled, they should show up at county council meetings consistently and voice their discontent.

Kulessa said it’s still unclear if this project will happen. If they cancel it, they’re still going to address safety issues at Yaeger and Milburn down the line.