Construction has begun on the long-awaited roundabout at the intersection of Cox and Wire roads after a recent City Council action cleared the way for the project to begin.
At its second meeting in June, the City Council opted to foot the full cost of the project, totaling $1.87 million, instead of waiting on a potential $450,000 grant from the Alabama Department of Transportation. The project had been held up previously while the city waited on the grant to be awarded.
Just hours before the June meeting, the city was informed by ALDOT that it would lose the grant funding if it awarded a bid before the grant was given final approval.
“The city engineer came to me at 4 o’clock this afternoon and said, “Guess what, ALDOT called and said if you bid the project, we haven’t approved (the grant) yet, and if you award the project at tonight’s Council meeting you lose the $450,000 of grant funding that we told you that we would give you,” said City Manager Megan McGowen Crouch.
With the City picking up the entire cost of the project, JLD Enterprises LLC began construction Monday of the roundabout.
The roundabout will bring much-needed improvements to an intersection that has long needed attention.
The addition of Exit 50 on I-85 in 2012 has brought more traffic to Cox Road and to the intersection.
The City is expecting temporary lane shifts and traffic pattern disruptions during construction, which is expected to be completed by December, according to a news release. Motorists are advised to use caution and take alternative routes if possible.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, roundabouts “provide substantial safety and operational benefits compared to other intersection types, most notably a reduction in severe crashes.”
“Roundabouts can be implemented in both urban and rural areas under a wide range of traffic conditions,” according to the FHWA website. “Roundabouts are an effective option for managing speed and transitioning traffic from high-speed to low-speed environments, such as freeway interchange ramp terminals, and rural intersections along high-speed roads.”
According to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health that looked at roundabouts compared to other intersection types when it comes to motor vehicle crashes and injuries, “there were highly significant reductions of 38 percent for all crash severities combined and of 76 percent for all injury crashes. Reductions in the numbers of fatal and incapacitating injury crashes were estimated at about 90 percent.”
The roundabout was strongly supported by the Council, including Ward 8 Councilman Tommy Dawson, who has long brought up the intersection’s dangers and safety issues.
“I think it’s really needed,” Dawson said at the June Council meeting. “I know it’s a lot of money for us to have to spend, but we’ve been working on it for a long time and it’s something that needs doing, and I think it will save lives in the long run.”