State transportation officials intend to move ahead with construction of a traffic circle in Pumpkin Center despite protests from area residents.
During a March open house to get public feedback for the roundabout proposal, several residents objected to state Department of Transportation officials about the plan. However, DOT officials are convinced motorists' opinions will change.
"At the public hearing, we had those that were in favor and many that were not," DOT spokeswoman Cissy McNure wrote in an e-mail. "This is very common as a roundabout is unfamiliar to many people, but (statistics) show that roundabouts save lives."
Roundabouts force motorists to make a right turn onto the circle and then another right turn off the circle and onto the street destination. DOT officials plan to build the traffic circle to replace the four-way stop currently controlling motorists at Appling-Harlem and Wrightsboro roads.
Since 2000, there have been 63 vehicle wrecks at that intersection and DOT officials say 23 of those could have been prevented with a roundabout.
Officials say the road design also eases traffic flow, which improves public attitudes about roundabouts.
A poll conducted by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program showed that public attitudes toward traffic circles prior to construction is 68 percent negative. Following construction, negative responses dropped to zero.
Since the public meeting, though, the scale of the roundabout has slimmed.
"The acceleration and deceleration lanes have been removed ... which will require less rights of way," McNure said.
The smaller design should have no affect on the ability of semi-trucks to navigate the circle, McNure said.
The project could cost about $960,000 and take as long as 18 months, with construction tentatively scheduled to start in July 2012.
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