Officials call new circle safest traffic option

Video of Augusta's first roundabout.
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It might make you dizzy, but only if you drive really fast.

Traffic officials have built Richmond County's first roundabout on Scott Nixon Memorial Drive as part of a larger project to connect the road to Wheeler Road.

Mason McKnight Parkway, as the new road will be called, is currently under construction and will be the new thoroughfare for several commercial developments planned near the Richmond and Columbia County line. It will feed traffic to several new stores, including a 67,768-square-foot outdoor retailer called Gander Mountain and a 24,488-square-foot Northern Tool & Equipment.

Development in the area has also led traffic planners to consider extending the nearby Frontage Road to the roundabout on Scott Nixon Memorial Drive but plans are still being discussed, according to Steve Cassell, a Richmond County traffic engineer.

The roundabout was chosen for the new development because of its efficiency in moving traffic and because it's generally considered to be safer than a normal four-way stop, Mr. Cassell said.

Roundabouts differ from traffic circles in both size and the rules that govern the traffic flow. They are smaller -- about 250 feet for a roundabout compared to about 1,000 feet for a traffic circle -- and unlike a traffic circle, drivers must yield when entering a roundabout. They also typically have a slower speed than their larger counterparts, which cuts down on the severity and frequency of accidents, Mr. Cassell said.

"A four-way intersection has 32 conflict points -- vehicle to vehicle -- and 24 for vehicle to pedestrian," Mr. Cassell said. "Whereas in a roundabout you have eight vehicle conflicts and eight pedestrian conflicts. So it significantly reduces the opportunity to cause accidents."

At least eight other locations have been discussed for roundabout intersections.

Mr. Cassell said he has been in talks with officials from the Medical College of Georgia and Paine College for a project near Druid Park Avenue and Laney-Walker Boulevard, he said.

"That one's just a concept and nothing has been funded," he said.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.

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gnx
7
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gnx 07/14/08 - 01:25 am
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Unfortunately few in this

Unfortunately few in this area understand that little concept called 'yielding' so it will be interesting to see how the roundabouts work here.

NEone
6
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NEone 07/14/08 - 02:37 am
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The roundabouts work. It's

The roundabouts work. It's the drivers who won't.

Fiat_Lux
15104
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Fiat_Lux 07/14/08 - 07:03 am
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Nevertheless, and

Nevertheless, and fortunately, the clods who run stop signs and red lights will be 'not yielding' at considerably slower speeds as they crash into other people.

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 07/14/08 - 07:52 am
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Traffic control signs and

Traffic control signs and intelligent driving techniques aren't too popular in Augusta. The roundabout should be an interesting experiment.

BarstoolDreamer
19
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BarstoolDreamer 07/14/08 - 08:43 am
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Welcome to 1975

Welcome to 1975

mojo
0
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mojo 07/14/08 - 08:55 am
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Traffic circles are one of

Traffic circles are one of those ideas that look good on paper but are failures in real life. One wonders if the folks claiming they're safer have ever driven through a few. Folks in Augusta routinely stop traffic in intersections on Washington Road to make illegal uturns accross five lanes - I look forward to similar behavior in a circle.

Little Lamb
45282
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Little Lamb 07/14/08 - 09:06 am
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Who the heck is Mason

Who the heck is Mason McKnight? And they call this a parkway? Where is the park?

Little Lamb
45282
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Little Lamb 07/14/08 - 09:09 am
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Do you think we could plant a

Do you think we could plant a tree in the middle of the circle?

Casting_Fool
1121
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Casting_Fool 07/14/08 - 09:14 am
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"... on Scott Nixon Memorial

"... on Scott Nixon Memorial Drive as part of a larger project to connect the road to Wheeler Road."

Which ought to be interesting since Wheeler Road is on the other side of I20 and doesn't connect with Scott Nixon MD. My guess is that the new circle is in that area just north of I20, between I520 and Flowing Wells Road, where all of the construction has been going on. I just can't see how they're going to connect the two roads with I20 in the way.

Casting_Fool
1121
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Casting_Fool 07/14/08 - 09:19 am
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Ah... I see where they got it

Ah... I see where they got it from. Wheeler is probably being extended from the other side of Flowing Wells Road into that new area along I20. My mistake. I didn't know that the new road was going to be an extension of Wheeler. My bad.

What4
0
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What4 07/14/08 - 09:48 am
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A county as large as Richmond

A county as large as Richmond should have competent, dedicated traffic engineering. This must be a part-time function judging from the results seen in decisions such as this, thru and left turns in the left turn lane at Warren Road and Washington Road, and the total lack of any rhyme or reason to the timing of traffic lights, especially in the downtown area. We deserve better!!

Newsreader
11
Points
Newsreader 07/14/08 - 09:50 am
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Aiken has plenty of

Aiken has plenty of roundabouts, and they work fairly well. Exception being someone who is not familiar with them and can not figure out how to enter or exit on. There have been reports of disoriented drivers circling them for half an hour. Most people call them traffic circles no matter what size they are, and the one at Aiken Mall has several lanes and even bypasses, but it is not big enough for an eighteen wheeler to get around. I hope that GA DOT has configured this one with a large enough radius for trucks that are going to all these new stores.

Little Lamb
45282
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Little Lamb 07/14/08 - 09:55 am
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They will need one of these

They will need one of these traffic circles downtown for the trolley to go around.

Little Lamb
45282
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Little Lamb 07/14/08 - 10:01 am
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In the picture you can see a

In the picture you can see a nice concrete sidewalk inside the traffic circle. Who would want to walk there? I wish they would put sidewalks in the neighborhoods, not in the traffic circles!

NEone
6
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NEone 07/14/08 - 10:05 am
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If there's a yield sign

If there's a yield sign facing all incoming traffic, anyone with 1/2 a brain should be able to figure out that those inside the circle have the right of way... Roundabouts work well in many other places. Maybe just not for people who can't seem to learn anything new.

motivatedinhepzibah
0
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motivatedinhepzibah 07/14/08 - 10:19 am
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Augusta has to much

Augusta has to much construction going on at one time. 520 widening from gordon hwy to mike padgett is suppose to start in 2009 sometime. The st. sebastian pkwy has cones already on it downtown coming off riverwatch pkwy. What roads in augusta will be left.

Republicant
3
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Republicant 07/14/08 - 10:34 am
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Whats up with Georgia DOT?

Whats up with Georgia DOT? They put stop signs on entryways to the freeway? That is a fantastic way to cause accidents. No wonder so many of these idiot drivers stop at the entry ramps to 520 even when there is no stop sign, waiting for traffic to stop and let them in, all the while talking on their phones.

voluptuously_auburn1
0
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voluptuously_auburn1 07/14/08 - 10:50 am
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Mason H. McKnight, Sr. first

Mason H. McKnight, Sr. first began building houses in Augusta, Ga. in the 1940's He had one son, Mason H. McKnight, Jr. After Mason, Jr. received an engineering degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology he returned home to assist his father in residential building. After trying his hand at residential construction, Mason, Jr. switched over to commercial building.
On May 30, 1961 Mason McKnight, Jr. formed a company known as McKnight & Sons. This commercial construction company quickly progressed into what is today known as McKnight Construction Company. Mason, Jr. built several jobs including the following: North Augusta High School Addition (1963), Fort Gordon Training Fire Range (1965), Athens Presbyterian Church (1966), Medical College of Georgia Student Center (1967), and the Georgia Southern College Library (1975). Mason McKnight, Jr. passed away in July of 1994. After his death, the company was placed in the hands of his two sons, Mason McKnight, III and William McKnight. Both brothers live in Augusta, Ga. with their families. William is currently president of McKnight Construction Company, while Mason, III holds the vice president position.

Little Lamb
45282
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Little Lamb 07/14/08 - 10:55 am
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Similar, but slightly

Similar, but slightly different subject here: Have you ever used a road with multiple left turn lanes? An example is Stevens Creek Rd. at Riverwatch Pkwy. headed into Augusta. I usually find myself in the right, or "outer" left turn lane, and there have been several times when the clown in the left, or "inner" left turn lane will try (and usually succeed, because I'm a chicken) and drift over into my lane when turning. It's dangerous! I'm now trying to imagine what would happen in one of these roundabouts when the roundabout has two traffic lanes. There would be strange lane changing in the roundabout!

Little Lamb
45282
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Little Lamb 07/14/08 - 10:58 am
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Thanks, VA. I wonder how

Thanks, VA. I wonder how much he paid to have a road named after him? Who did he pay it to? I would pay to have a road named Voluptuously Auburn Avenue! How about Deborah Elliot Expressway? Patricia Thomas Tollway? I don't think Little Lamb Lane will ever fly!

i.b.e.w..electric
0
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i.b.e.w..electric 07/14/08 - 11:29 am
0
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why do we drive on parkways

why do we drive on parkways and park on driveways,

RockyMayer
0
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RockyMayer 07/14/08 - 12:16 pm
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Has anyone seen this traffic

Has anyone seen this traffic circle??? it is located in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE.... no traffic, no need. what a waste.... and i have already seen some people using it incorrectly- is it that hard?

sand gnat
470
Points
sand gnat 07/14/08 - 12:17 pm
0
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A roundabout was recently

A roundabout was recently completed at the busiest intersection on St. Simons Island. Surprisingly, it is working very well.

WorriedAboutOurFuture
16
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WorriedAboutOurFuture 07/14/08 - 12:34 pm
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If you've ever driven in

If you've ever driven in downtown Savannah around the squares, you probably can handle this concept. You yield to everything coming from the left. I've been around this little gem of a roundabout, and it's so small that it's a bit hard to negotiate. A steady stream of traffic coming from one direction will make it very difficult for traffic trying to enter the circle to get in. I just wonder why they felt it had to be so very small to be effective. They could have slowed people down significantly without making the come almost to a complete stop.

Little Lamb
45282
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Little Lamb 07/14/08 - 01:18 pm
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Let's see, the big selling

Let's see, the big selling point for these roundabouts is that you need no traffic signals. But what about the poor pedestrian? Are they supposed to use the circle in the middle? Or are they supposed to just walk around the outside of the circle, crossing as many streets as it takes to get to the desired street? Since there are no "Walk, Don't Walk" signals, they just have to be patient. Do they put pedestrian crosswalks in the circles and give pedestrians the right of way?

sigo
0
Points
sigo 07/14/08 - 01:42 pm
0
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I thought there was a

I thought there was a roundabout near Greenbrier Schools or is it a traffic circle, that one has been there for a while now, wouldn't that be the first

NEone
6
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NEone 07/14/08 - 02:02 pm
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Sigo: Greenbrier isn't in

Sigo: Greenbrier isn't in Augusta. Technically, this one is Augusta's first.

fungirl
0
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fungirl 07/14/08 - 03:31 pm
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Little_Lamb...you think

Little_Lamb...you think Stevens Creek @ Riverwatch is bad, then you should try Claussen Road @ Washington Rd. The idiots get into the left lane to turn, then cross over two lanes when they realize the need to get on I-20 Westbound. I travel this route every single day, and every single day I end up blowing my horn to try and prevent a wreck. Lucky for me I havent had an accident yet, but its only a matter of time. Some idiot wants to pay my car off I guess??!!??

FallingLeaves
27
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FallingLeaves 07/14/08 - 03:50 pm
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Oh, goody, now it will be

Oh, goody, now it will be just like driving in Boston and Rome! Take a deep breath and gun it! The misuse of roundabouts are infamous in those two cities for driving up the ire of drivers and pedestrians. Can't wait until I have to deal with Augusta drivers in the same scenario. Oh, yes I can wait. I avoid roundabouts like the plague. I haven't been back to Boston since 1977 mainly because of the crazy traffic and I wasn't even driving!

Little Lamb
45282
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Little Lamb 07/14/08 - 03:56 pm
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Ooooh, Sunne. Thanks for

Ooooh, Sunne. Thanks for reminding me. I have used that junction, too, and people can be so crazy shifting lanes as they turn left! Now, just imagine all the lane shifting going on inside a two-lane roundabout!

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