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City unveils plan for $1.5 million River Road roundabout

MIKE OWEN

mowen@ledger-enquirer.com

This photo, courtesy of the Columbus Consolidated Government, depicts the latest concept of the roundabout design.
This photo, courtesy of the Columbus Consolidated Government, depicts the latest concept of the roundabout design.

City officials unveiled the design of the $1.5 million roundabout they plan to install at the intersection of River Road, Bradley Park Drive, Green Island Drive and Cascade Road. The plan was presented at a community meeting of about 200 area residents at Wynnbrook Baptist Church, less than a mile from the intersection.

The plan presented this evening is practically in its final stages, with only fine tuning remaining to be done, said Columbus Councilor Glenn Davis, who lives in the area and represents it on council. Davis hosted the presentation and gave residents a brief history of how the project came to be.

Davis said he has been concerned about the “dangerous intersection” for more than 10 years, but had been unable to put together a plan to make it safer. Because River Road is a state road, any changes had to be done to the Georgia Department of Transportation’s satisfaction, and that limited what could be done, Davis said.

All of the traditional approaches, with conventional traffic signals did not address the problem, which involves one major thoroughfare, River Road, and three smaller, less-travelled roads feeding into and across it.

Then in the last few years, more and more roundabouts were being installed around the state and the city, and some residents came to Davis and asked if one would work at the intersection. At first, he was skeptical, he said.

“I just didn’t think it was going to work,” Davis said. “Even the city was a little skeptical. But more and more I did research on it and more and more it looked possible.

“I really believe it will work well there.”

Roundabouts are simple, traffic calming and controlling structures that require drivers entering to yield to traffic to the left that is already in the intersection. After entering the roundabout, the driver then has the right of way and simple drives counter-clockwise until he or she comes to the desired exit. They have been effective and popular in Europe for decades, but are just recently finding favor in Georgia.

The River Road roundabout will be larger and more elaborate (and thus more expensive) than others around town because it involves five approaches instead of the more typical four. However, because River Road is a state road, the $1.5 million projected price tag will be paid by state money, officials said.

In addition to the traditional roundabout setup, the design calls for right-turn lanes that would allow traffic coming south on River Road to turn onto Green Island Drive without entering the roundabout. Similarly, northbound traffic on River Road will have a right-turn lane onto Bradley Park, and west-bound traffic on Bradley Park would have one onto River Road north.

City Director of Engineering Donna Newman said the plans should be finalized soon and the city is in the process of acquiring the rights of way necessary for the project, which she said the city hopes to start building at the first of next year. It should take about 18 months to complete, Newman said.

Davis said the project will cause some disruption, but that the plan is to keep traffic moving in all directions during construction. And when it’s done, traffic will move more freely and more safely, he assured the residents.

“I personally think that’s a very dangerous intersection,” Davis said. “I believe it will work there and make it a safer intersection.”

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