Roundabouts could be coming soon to Effingham County.
A public information open house will be held Thursday at Ebenezer Middle School about a roundabout planned for the intersection of Ebenezer Road and Rincon-Stillwell/Old Augusta roads.
“Roundabouts have been proven to be the safest way to go,” said Ann Purcell, the state transportation board representative for the 1st Congressional District.
The state has more than 200 active roundabout projects in the works, state Department of Transportation director of operations Bayne Smith said to the Effingham Chamber of Commerce community retreat.
“For a certain level or roadway, they eliminate conflict points,” he said. “We put in roundabouts where we have a lot of variability in the traffic that goes through there.”
The roundabouts allow traffic to continue to flow and at conflict points — those areas where vehicles could come together — the roundabouts are safer, according to Smith.
“At a traffic signal, there is a lot of opportunity for people to run into each other,” Smith said, “and generally there is an opportunity for that to happen at a higher rate of speed.”
There also are plans for a roundabout at the intersections of Highways 17 and 119 in Guyton. The city has gotten a grant to cover the cost of the utilities being moved, Purcell noted.
She also is a proponent of the use of roundabouts.
“You think the trucks can’t get through there? It works,” she said. “It works. We’re real excited about that.”
Smith said roundabouts might be more expensive in initial costs but in the long run are less costly than traffic signals.
“They operate a lot more efficiently than traffic signals do,” he said.”Many times, they are cheaper to put in. From a long term perspective, they are cheaper for us. “
Another roundabout could be coming at the intersection of Highway 17 and Blue Jay Road. As part of the proposed roundabout, Effingham
County commissioners have approved a letter declaring they will absorb all the costs associated with the electricity for any new lighting at the intersection and for its maintenance.
“That is a terrible area,” said county Commissioner Forrest Floyd.
Should the roundabout be determined as the best alternative, a formal local government lighting project agreement needs to be approved. The cost of landscaping will be dictated by the amount of landscaping that goes in.
“Which will start a long, lengthy process,” said county commission Chairman Wendall Kessler said.
County Administrator Toss Allen said the DOT’s policy is to look at putting in a roundabout before considering a traffic signal at an intersection.
If a roundabout isn’t feasible for the crossroads, then the state will look at signalization.
A potential roundabout for McCall and Blue Jay roads has been put on hold because of the anticipated realigning of the planned Effingham Parkway.