They may be circles of confusion for some motorists, but roundabouts — including two that opened last week — are here to stay.
And there may be plenty more on the way.
“Roundabouts generally provide a more free-flowing solution to traffic issues, and they also do not require a tie-in to power for traffic signals,” said Katie Crumley, Hall County spokeswoman.
Hall County was putting final touches last week on a roundabout at JM Turk and Martin roads, near Martin Technology Academy of Math and Science, in time for the 2019-20 school year starting Wednesday, Aug. 7.
The new infrastructure is a short drive from Falcon Parkway/Ga. 13, where the Georgia Department of Transportation is finishing up the new new Exit 14 interchange off Interstate 985.
The DOT opened a roundabout last week on Lanier Islands Parkway/Ga. 347 at Big Creek Road.
The opening is part of DOT efforts to widen Ga. 347 between McEver Road and Lanier Islands resort. The $10.4 million project has a completion date of Oct. 31.
Roundabouts “are fantastic solutions to the problem of (traffic) delay,” DOT district spokeswoman Katie Strickland said. “We have these (projects) going on everywhere in Georgia.”
The Ga. 347 roundabout is a bit unique in that it was built as part of a larger road project — as opposed to a standalone project, she said.
Also, it’s a bit wider than the usual roundabout to accommodate boat traffic.
One of the reasons roundabouts are favored as a project generally is safety.
“In a typical four-way intersection, you’ve got 32 points of (potential collision). Many of them are head-on collisions or angle crashes,” Strickland said. “A roundabout reduces that number to eight … and many of those points are glancing blows. You take away the head-on collision, which contributes to many fatalities.”
The DOT said it is “working on educating the public on how to use” roundabouts.
“All you have to do is look left and then you can go,” Strickland said. “You don’t have to come to a complete stop. You can yield.”
Roundabouts are a relatively new trend in Hall County, with ones also operating at Ledan and Sardis roadsin northwest Hall, Landrum Education Drive and Mathis Driveat the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus and Lights Ferry Road at Mitchell Street in Flowery Branch.
Lanier Islands opened three roundabouts on the resort in 2007-08 as part of overall infrastructure improvements, replacing traditional intersections.
More could be on their way.
On June 25, the Hall County Board of Commissioners approved a DOT grant application for funding for a roundabout at Mathis Drive at Campus Drive.
Matching funding is required, which would be provided by the UNG.
“No funding is required from Hall County,” Crumley said. “The county would simply oversee the project.”
If awarded, the roundabout would be built in the summer of 2020, she said.
“The university supports this plan and would allocate this money when and if the grant is awarded,” said Kate Maine, UNG chief of staff.
Oakwood is looking at a possible roundabout at Main Street and Flat Creek Road/Old Oakwood Road, as part of the city’s traffic improvement study, City Manager Stan Brown said.
The roundabout would provide “safety and more efficient operations,” he said.
“However, no funding is currently available and we do not have a specific timeline,” Brown added.
The DOT also is looking at roundabouts on Green Street — one at Thompson Bridge Road/Riverside Drive and one at Academy Street/E.E. Butler Parkway. The roundabouts are part of a larger $15 million Green Street improvements plan.
Also, plans call for Ga. 211 improvements in Braselton, just outside of Hall, including a roundabout at Chateau Elan resort, over the next few years.