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More roundabouts planned for troublesome intersections

Posted: September 7, 2013 - 11:07pm
The roundabout near the Greenbrier schools was the first one built in Columbia County. The state has plans to build several more in the near future.  Photo by Jim Blaylock
Photo by Jim Blaylock
The roundabout near the Greenbrier schools was the first one built in Columbia County. The state has plans to build several more in the near future.

Motorists will soon be driving in more circles as a traffic trend becomes more apparent on Columbia County roads.

County officials voted Tuesday to begin the design and engineering process for two roundabouts to improve troublesome intersections on Hereford Farm Road at Blanchard Road and William Few Parkway at Chamblin Road.

“Roundabouts have been around for a long, long time,” county Engineering Services Division Director Matt Schlachter said. “They are starting to get realized in the U.S. for their safety, how much safety they bring to intersections.”

The two new roundabouts add to several others in the county – Riverwood, Mason McKnight Junior Parkway near the future home of Bass Pro Shops, Ronald Reagan Drive behind Chili’s and a few in private subdivisions such as Highgrove off Hardy McManus Road.

Another at Pumpkin Center is in the pre-construction stages. The $1.1 million project is expected to be complete by the end of March, according to Cissy McNure, a Georgia Department of Transportation spokeswoman.

Schlachter said that DOT officials changed state regulations a couple of years ago requiring municipalities to consider roundabouts before traditional traffic signals.

“In order to improve an intersection with a signal, you have to first do a study to prove a roundabout won’t work,” Schlachter said.

Pre-construction studies and traffic counts ensure the roundabouts are designed and built to accommodate traffic whether it be civilian vehicles or transport trucks, Schlachter said. They also keep traffic flowing through intersections and keep speeds down, resulting in fewer and less-severe accidents.

A roundabout on Hereford Farm Road at Blanchard Road will help motorists navigate the area that currently has a 45 mph speed limit and limited sight distance.

“Coming over that hill, we’re going to try to slow folks down,” Schlachter said. “It makes it a lot safer.”

Because the new roundabouts haven’t been designed yet, Schlachter said there’s no way to tell what they will cost or when they will be complete. The Hereford Farm Road project is slated to be paid for from the 2011-16 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax and the William Few Parkway roundabout is part of the Transportation Investment Act of 2010.

County Commissioner Bill Morris, who represents the district containing Pumpkin Center, said he’s trying to put together some helpful information about roundabouts for residents to include safety statistics and how to navigate a roundabout. He plans to disseminate fliers and possibly hold public meetings.

“The whole transportation industry is moving more and more towards roundabouts because they are low maintenance,” Morris said.

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Comments (2)


CC residents can't even navigate four way stops. And the red

lights with four yield signs. Are the yield signs in force when the lights are red, green or yellow? What if everyone yields at the same time? Traffic circles should have at least two lanes and require no "stopping or yielding". These defeat the purpose of constant traffic flow. Yes and how about engineering one that is wide enough for a school bus on a road to a school. Or wide enough for a moving van on the road to a cluster community on steroids.

Traffic flow should be the goal. As constant and unrestrained as possible. Moving and merging constantly.

Look at the European traffic circles, not the Louisiana ones.

We are also in the process of bastardizing the Bobby Jones on and off ramps. Impeding the original design of constant moving and merging. Seems the DOT has not problem with more red lights at the end of Interstate ramps?

More playing with taxpayer money. Let's invent another construction project. How about a new three lane bridge on a proposed four lane road.


Where to begin...

CC, your comments imply only car drivers matter.
Modern roundabouts are the safest form of intersection in the world. Visit http://tinyurl.com/iihsRAB for modern roundabout FAQs and safety facts. Modern roundabouts, and the pedestrian refuge islands approaching them, are two of nine proven safety measures identified by the FHWA, http://tinyurl.com/7qvsaem
The safety comes from the ‘slow and go’ operation instead of the ‘stop or go fast’ way a stop light works. The smaller size of the modern roundabout is what makes them safer and keeps speeds in the 20 mph range. This makes it much easier to avoid a crash or stop for pedestrians. It also means that if a crash happens the likelihood of injury is very low. Safety is the #1 reason there are over 3,000 modern roundabouts in the US today and many more on the way.
Slow and go modern roundabout intersections means less delay than a stop light or stop sign, especially the other 20 hours a day people aren’t driving to or from work. Average daily delay at a signal is around 12 seconds per car. At a modern roundabout average delay is less than five seconds. Signals take an hour of demand and restrict it to a half hour, at best only half the traffic gets to go at any one time. At a modern roundabout four drivers entering from four directions can all enter at the same time. Don’t try that with a signalized intersection.