County, GDOT consider roundabout
Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 13, 2016
LaGRANGE — The Troup County Board of Commissioners is set to review a proposal from the Georgia Department of Transportation to replace the intersection of Whitesville and Bartley roads with a roundabout.
The proposal is in its early phases and Troup County officials will need to give GDOT the green light before a more comprehensive study and design phase of the roundabout can be completed, according to James Emery, the county’s roads engineer.
“A roundabout provides an option to still make improvements to an intersection and reduce crashes while improving operations,” Emery told commissioners at a work session Friday. “Even at an intersection with high volumes where a signal would be justified, a roundabout provides better reduction in crash severity because everyone navigates the intersection at lower speeds.”
In the past five years, there have been 18 accidents at the intersection of Whitesville and Bartley roads, according to GDOT. Eight of those accidents occurred last year, prompting officials to give the intersection a closer look.
Because Whitesville Road is a state highway, GDOT would be responsible for the design and construction costs of the roundabout, but the county would be responsible for the cost of energizing overhead lighting to help motorists navigate the roundabout.
Roundabouts vary in cost, but $1.2 million is a “safe estimate” for the construction cost of a single‐lane roundabout, according to a study by GDOT.
Roundabouts are designed to encourage drivers to slow down as they approach the intersection. Additionally, in some locations rumble strips are installed on the approaches to raise driver awareness of the need to slow down and navigate the intersection. GDOT has already installed roundabouts in rural areas around the state on routes that are posted at 55 mph.
Driver expectation can be improved by advanced signage, as well as notification during public meetings and other avenues that a roundabout project is planned. Drivers unfamiliar with intersections are encouraged to ask questions during these types of meetings, as well as to slow down and navigate the intersection by adhering to signs and rules of the road.
With the rise in roundabouts built within the state, driver awareness and behavior is improving as more drivers are becoming more familiar with them, according to GDOT.
Emery said the project could take years to complete if commissioners sign off on GDOT’s next phase — and the next study, which will be more comprehensive, may determine that a roundabout isn’t feasible, Emery said.