EAST PEORIA — The roundabout planned for the Camp Street and River Road intersection, and the inevitable traffic snarls it will create, is coming in spring 2020.

The East Peoria City Council on Tuesday approved about $300,000 in engineering fees to keep the long-planned project moving forward.  

"What we have there now is not working," said Commissioner Tim Jeffers, who oversees the public works department. "(The roundabout) is the best solution we have now."

The roundabout project has been in the planning stages since 2013.

The construction will shut down the intersection from March 2020 through July 2020. The closure will coincide with the Illinois Department of Transportation's closure of the Murray Baker Bridge from March through at least October 2020, compounding the traffic congestion in the area.

The bridge that carries Interstate 74 over the Illinois River will be closed for a scheduled redecking project.

"There were discussions about staggering the construction times," Dennis Barron, East Peoria's director of public works, said Tuesday. "But part of the thinking was doing it all at once and not extending it into two construction seasons. Get it all over with at once."

The closure of the bridge will route interstate traffic on the I-74 flyovers in East Peoria and not bring through traffic into the roundabout construction zone, Barron said. Local traffic will be routed around the closed Camp Street and River Road intersection.

The estimated $3 million project will be split 70 percent and 30 percent between a federal Peoria-Pekin Urbanized Area Transportation Study grant and the city of East Peoria. The council approved $91,650 to Midwest Engineering Associates for design services, which include the acquisition of land for easements in the area, and $207,790 for construction engineering services.

Commissioner John Kahl said he's no fan of roundabouts and struggled with lending his support to this one.

"I have a lot of reservations, especially where it is going," Kahl said Tuesday. "My gut is telling me no, but I guess sometimes you have to make a decision not based on your personal opinion. I will support (the roundabout) with caution."

Mayor Dave Mingus also sounded skeptical about the roundabout.

"They're safer, right, Rob?" Mingus said to Robert Culp, the senior project engineer for Midwest Engineering. "You believe all that."

"Yeah," Culp responded. "They're safer."

The engineering appropriation passed by a 4-0 vote. Commissioner Dan Decker was absent.

Scott Hilyard can be reached at 686-3244 or by email at shilyard@pjtar.com. Follow @scotthilyard on Twitter.