The Alabama Department of Transportation is moving forward with its plans to install a roundabout at the intersection of Farmville Road and North College Street.
The project will be funded by state and federal funds, and construction is slated to begin in spring 2020.
ALDOT representatives have been working to garner public feedback on the project as well as gain support from local leaders. Representatives held a public involvement meeting in mid-November to present the project to the public and receive comments, and most recently, two representatives from ALDOT's Southeast Region Office presented the project to the City Council in a work session on Dec. 19.
The public involvement meeting had 187 attendees, and 75 of those submitted surveys about the project. Survey results show 43 people support the project, 21 do not support it and 11 were undecided.
About 75 percent of those who did not support the project were adamant about the installation of a traffic signal at the intersection, but results of traffic studies do not support a red light, said Mark Graham, pre-construction engineer for the region, to the council during the recent work session.
"We went back and recounted (traffic) before we went to this public involvement meeting to make sure that we were not close with a warrant for a traffic signal," he said.
Graham and Matt Leverette, assistant region engineer, said a roundabout will help with the flow of traffic and with safety concerns at the intersection.
"Our emphasis on (roundabouts) is being driven by safety, and they've been shown to be safer. We really have been looking at things that can be done and especially the safety factor is the primary motivator," Leverette said.
While a traditional four-way intersection has 32 possible collision points, roundabouts have only eight, according to informational material provided by ALDOT. Studies by the Federal Highway Administration and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have concluded that roundabouts achieve a 37 percent reduction in overall collisions, a 75 percent reduction in injury collisions and a 90 percent reduction in fatality collisions. They also reduce pedestrian accidents by 40 percent.
The speed limit in the roundabout will be 35, with signs advising drivers to slow down as they approach it. The roads leading into the roundabout will weave slightly, rather than being a straight line, to further encourage drivers to decrease speed.
To keep traffic flowing, drivers turning right off Farmville Road to go south will be able to utilize a bypass lane, allowing them to avoid entering the roundabout only to complete the full circle in order to turn right.
Lighting was one concern of residents, but Leverette said the roundabout will be well-lighted.
The project is currently in the planning stage, and many elements of the project are not yet set in stone, such as detour routes during construction and what will be installed in the middle of the roundabout. The next step in the process is for ALDOT to work with property owners to acquire rights of way along the intersection. ALDOT aims to begin that process in the summer of 2019.
After that, utility relocation will be the priority, and that process will begin in fall 2019.
The city plans to work with ALDOT to educate the community about the proper way to utilize a roundabout as well as the benefits of a roundabout through a marketing campaign in the future.
Construction is slated to start in spring 2020 and could take less than a year to complete.