Roundabouts coming to LaGrange

LaGRANGE – Soon, LaGrange residents will be going around in circles at what officials hope will be significantly safer intersections thanks to new roundabouts scheduled to be installed on the west side of town.

New electric poles were placed at the intersection of Broad Street and Country Club Drive – near Waverley Way and Panther Way – this week in preparation for the construction of the Broad Street roundabout that is expected to start this spring.

LaGrange City Council approved the project last year in hopes of improving public safety at the problematic intersection by eliminating crossing conflicts.

“It is not a particularly safe intersection, and it is one where quite honestly, a lot of people don’t even obey the traffic control devices that are there now, so we are turning that into a roundabout,” said Mayor Jim Thornton during a speech at the Rotary Club on Wednesday.

But that intersection won’t be the only roundabout in town for long, thanks to the recently approved bid for a contractor for the Vernon Woods Connector that officials hope will improve public safety response times in that area.

“This week the city awarded the contract for the Vernon Woods connector which will connect (WellStar) West Georgia Medical Center, right there at Medical Drive through the land donated through the Callaway Family to Country Club Road, and where that road intersects Country Club. For safety reasons, there will be another roundabout constructed right there, so that people don’t have to make dangerous left turns,” said Thornton. “The great thing about roundabouts is you never have to make a left turn. Left hand turns are where most of your accidents occur.”

According to Thornton, the original estimates on the Vernon Woods connector were for roughly $4.5 million, and the Callaway Foundation gave a $2 million of the funds needed for the project through a grant. The original estimate would have left the county to pay $2.5 million out of county SPLOST funds, but when the final bids on the project came in, local officials received a positive surprise.

“The lowest responsive bid came in at $2.8 million,” said Thornton. “Consequently, that road is only going to cost taxpayers $800,000.”

Thornton admitted that most roads and improvements would not come at such a low price, but with a long list of other road projects in the works – including the proposed re-alignment of Bull Street – being able to put those funds towards future projects is a positive for taxpayers.

Reach Alicia B. Hill at alicia.hill@lagrangenews.com or at 706-884-7311, Ext. 2154.