Going In Circles

City Eyes Roundabout For Congested Intersection

Posted: April 20, 2013

The city is considering a roundabout for the intersection of Reservoir and South Carlton streets, where motorists now have to make difficult left turns. The roundabout would shift vehicles away from businesses and onto the Spotswood Elementary School property. (Photo by Michael Reilly / DN-R)
HARRISONBURG — Getting around certain parts of the city may eventually require going around in circles.

The Harrisonburg Public Works Department is in the preliminary design stage for a roundabout at the intersection of Reservoir and Carlton streets, assistant director Drew Williams said. Harrisonburg City Public Schools owns a large portion of the design area at Spotswood Elementary School, while the city owns Eastover Park tennis courts at the southeast corner.

Williams said the city is trying to contact owners of the other two parcels that would be affected — McDonald’s and Sam’s Hot Dog Stand.

Residents have noted the difficulty in making left turns from Carlton onto Reservoir, which clogs traffic, city officials say. The roundabout will shift vehicles away from the businesses and onto the school property, Williams said, while “minimizing” the impact on the tennis courts.

Williams said the project would be an extension of traffic-calming measures that have already been built through the city’s Old Town neighborhood. The roundabout can serve as a “breakpoint” for drivers by alerting them to changing land uses, Williams said.

Depending on which side of the Reservoir/Carlton intersection you’re on, you’re in either a residential or commercial stretch.

Williams adds that the roundabout will be safer for pedestrians, too.

A cost estimate and construction timeline have not been set, though the city does have a $1.5 million revenue-sharing grant from the Virginia Department of Transportation. Harrisonburg must pay $750,000 of that $1.5 million.

The city eyes roundabouts in several other locations, including Chicago Avenue/Mount Clinton Pike and East Market/Mason streets, though none is close to construction.

The only roundabout in Harrisonburg is in front of Smithland Elementary School.

“It’s becoming more commonplace,” Williams said. “They tend to function a little bit better and have a longer life span than a signalized intersection. Some people love them. Some people hate them. We’re not trying to put them everywhere.”

Contact Preston Knight at 574-6272 or pknight@dnronline.com

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