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Milton Residents Favor Roundabout at Hopewell-Birmingham

A roundabout would cost more, but would keep traffic moving continuously at the intersection.

Close to 100 people had given Milton their opinions on concept plans to fix the Birmingham Road-Hopewell Road intersection, and most of them prefer a roundabout solution to a traditional traffic signal with left turn lanes solution.

Public Works Director Carter Lucas presented data about the intersection, the two concept plans and comments from city residents (and even some non-residents) during Wednesday's Milton City Council work session at City Hall.

Why change is needed: Lucas said anyone making a left hand turn at the intersection causes traffic backups even for those wanting to turn right.

The council meeting followed an hour-long public information session about the intersection improvement ideas.

Of the 93 people who took the online survey at the website devoted to the project, 59 percent favored the roundabout, Lucas said, while 37 percent prefer the traffic signal with left turn lanes. A small number want nothing changed, while just a few said they'd be happy with either plan. Lucas said comments would be accepted online until the final design is adopted.

The two plans were the only concepts that would address traffic problems not only in 2013, but through 2033, he said.

Mayor Joe Lockwood asked Lucas, "Why a roundabout?"

The Public Works director said roundabouts have fewer conflict points. The traffic signal option in a typical four-way intersection has 32 conflict points, while a roundabout has 8.

"You've just got a different distribution of traffic," Lucas said.

A roundabout has some potential for traffic calming. But they aren't appropriate for every location. The city and the Georgia Department of Transportation are looking at roundabouts as a design alternative wherever it makes sense.

Roundabouts are more pedestrian friendly, too. Pedestrians only have one direction of traffic they have to cross, and the intersections usually have splitter islands giving them a safe haven before they have to cross the next lane.

Roundabouts are a bit greener, since they don't have all the idling, stopping and starting. And there's even some power savings, since no traffic signal is needed.

A roundabout should make it easier for the city to get GDOT approval for lower speed limits approaching the intersection also.

Concept Plans

  • Roundabout –  9 month construction time    $950,000
  • Traffic Signal – 6 month construction time    $750,000

Lucas and staff looked at the history of the intersection, which had 25 accidents between 2008 and 2011. But there's been a rash of accidents since July of this year, he said. Six accidents have happened.

"For some reason we've seen a little bit of a spike," he said.

Looking at all of the accidents, Lucas said a roundabout would have prevented conditions causing some of the accidents, and a traffic signal would have prevented some others. Some accidents wouldn't have been prevented by any design, particularly those involving icy or wet roads.

Of the six recent accidents, five involved left hand turns, which Lucas said are the most dangerous.

Anna November 15, 2012 at 01:22 PM
What about the in person opinions? You only mention those who went online.
MiltonRes November 15, 2012 at 02:36 PM
The roundabout is a great idea, prevalent all over in Europe. They work very well as traffic continues to always move. HOWEVER, they must be of sufficient size. If a small roundabout is engineered, cars will come to crawl just to negotiate the tighter radius. Then the entire proposal, project, time, and money has been wasted. I hope they have the sufficient area to plan the needed diameter accordingly.
Bob Pepalis (Editor) November 15, 2012 at 03:57 PM
In the story I was referring to the comments to which Public Works Director Carter Lucas referred during his presentation to City Council. The written comments hadn't been read yet, and he didn't mention specifics of what people told him personally. I'll ask to have that information provided.
ScottRAB November 16, 2012 at 05:45 PM
The FHWA has a video about modern roundabouts that is mostly accurate (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhHzly_6lWM ). Modern roundabouts are the safest form of intersection in the world. Search www.iihs.org for FAQs and safety facts. 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 2,400 modern roundabouts in the US today and many more on the way.

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