They went round and round about the roundabout at last week's penultimate meeting of the Clintonville Area Commission's North Broadway and North High Street Task Force.

They went round and round about the roundabout at last week's penultimate meeting of the Clintonville Area Commission's North Broadway and North High Street Task Force.

Where it's going to stop, or if it's going to be a go, not even members of the task force know.

A standing-room-only crowd of around 120 people filled the seats and lined the walls of the Charity Newsies meeting room on Indianola Avenue.

They came to hear what task force members had to say and to make themselves heard as the task force grapples with what member Joni Schlagenhauf referred to July 23 as the "heart of Clintonville."

Planning efforts have evolved over months of meetings to include not only a possible major roundabout at North High and North Broadway, but also smaller ones where North Broadway meets Indianola Avenue, Milton Avenue and Calumet Street, along with what has come to be called the "Complete Streets" approach to roadway design.

"Complete Streets are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users," according to the Web site of the National Complete Streets Coalition. "Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities must be able to safely move along and across a complete street."

In this instance, the approach would embrace things like planted medians for beautification and traffic calming purposes, tree plantings and decorative lighting to "make it look really cute," task force chairman and CAC member Mike McLaughlin said.

All of these measures are intended to slow down traffic on North Broadway to a new posted limited of 25 mph while improving the functionality of the intersection with North High Street, the scene of major morning and afternoon backups.

Although there has been more on the plates of task force members than a roundabout at North Broadway and High, it's garnered the most attention and was the focus of much of last week's meeting.

While most of those in attendance appeared to be behind the roundabout concept, with only a handful advocating the do-nothing approach, strong feelings emerged against some interim steps task force members have settled upon.

In particular, several in the audience expressed concerns about a proposal to widen North Broadway to add a left-turn lane from westbound North Broadway to southbound High.

They voiced doubts that Columbus city officials, after spending possibly as much as $380,000 for these temporary fixes, would regard them as temporary and continue on to build a roundabout, particularly if that meant undoing some of the work already done.

A portion of the July 23 meeting was taken up by a video featuring the mayor and other officials from Carmel, Ind., an Indianapolis suburb that could perhaps be dubbed "Roundabout City." Carmel has 60 of these with around a dozen more planned.

In the video, Mayor Jim Brainard touted the intersections as being safer for vehicles and pedestrians alike, because of the reduced speed as well as being cheaper to build and maintain than a traditional intersection. That's because, Brainard said, roundabouts have no need for traffic signals that can cost as much as $125,000 each and consume $8,000 to $10,000 in electricity each year.

Motorists also consume less gasoline because they don't idle at red lights, the mayor added.

Jim Blazer, the North Broadway Street Association representative on the task force, told the audience an engineering firm study done some years ago for his organization showed the wait time for motorists at the key intersection in Clintonville could be reduced from 59 seconds to 13 seconds with a roundabout.

Blazer also disputed figures from Columbus officials estimating the cost of the North High-North Broadway roundabout at between $17-million and $19-million, without including right-of-way acquisition.

"I strongly disagree with those numbers," Blazer said.

Again referring to the Burgess and Niple study done when traffic volumes at the intersection were 10 percent higher than today, Blazer said the major intersection's roundabout would cost only $ 1-million, with additional costs for obtaining rights of way, while the one at Indianola Avenue would be $750,000. The other two would cost around $500,000 each, Blazer said.

In any event, he said that Carmel's mayor informed him the federal government was picking up the tab for such intersections because of the improved safety and reduced pollution from idling vehicles.

The final session of the North Broadway and North High Street Task Force is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, July 30, in the Charity Newsies Building, 4300 Indianola Ave.

The next step, according to chairman McLaughlin, would be for CAC members to consider task force recommendations at the Aug. 6 meeting in Whetstone Library.

If the commission approves the roundabout concept, McLaughlin said city officials would be asked to seek requests for proposals from firms interested in the installation. At that point, he said, how much property might be needed for the intersection, and more precisely what such a project would cost, would become clearer.

McLaughlin invited people to submit further comments to the task force over the CAC's Web site, www.clintonvilleareacommission.org.