Driving downtown Urbana? New roundabout on way

City officials are planning to install a roundabout downtown beginning next Thursday night, Sept. 17, and Friday morning, Sept. 18, said Doug Crabill, assistant to the director of administration for Urbana.

The roundabout is part of the larger Scioto Street Enhancement Project, which also includes repaving roads and upgrading curbs and gutters in the city. Crabill said city officials are hoping to give the public plenty of notice about the change, which should be completed by next Friday morning.

Pavement has already been stripped from that section of the road, Crabill said, and city crews are expected to cover the traffic lights at Monument Square at about 6 p.m.

Flag crews will direct traffic while the square is paved and re-striped, he said.

Signs will also be installed before the work on the roundabout, alerting drivers about the change, and how to navigate through the intersection. The idea, Crabill said, came about as city officials searched for a way to reduce the number and severity of accidents at the intersection, as well as reducing traffic congestion.

“This has been something that’s been in the process for two or three years,” he said.

After listening to comments during a public hearing on the plan, Crabill said slight changes were made to the original plan to make it easier to park at businesses in the square.

To address concerns about pedestrian traffic, Crabill said crosswalks will be clearly marked in red, and rubber signs will be placed to alert drivers to watch for pedestrians.

“I think we’ve tried to allay those fears, Crabill said.

Other cities have seen positive results from roundabouts.

Ken Richardson, an engineering manager and designer with the city of Dublin, said the first roundabout was installed there about five years ago.

Now, he said, there are more than 10 up and running, and there are plans for more. While some residents there were initially concerned about the change, drivers figured out the traffic pattern quickly.

“(When) you’ve done it once, you acclimate to it pretty fast,” he said.

Richardson said while the roundabouts are not accident-proof, they generally reduce the severity of crashes because drivers will need to navigate them more slowly.

“Essentially, we’re going to increase capacity and make it more efficient,” Crabill said.

Contact this reporter at (937) 328-0355 or msanctis@coxohio.com.

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