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.

Comments (44) Add comment
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Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 07/14/08 - 03:58 pm
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I'd love to see them build a

I'd love to see them build a big roundabout on Wheeler Road at Marks Church Rd.

JohnQPublic
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JohnQPublic 07/14/08 - 05:10 pm
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They have lots of these in

They have lots of these in other cities. The way to navigate them is to just keep moving. They are not as bad as they seem.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 07/14/08 - 05:22 pm
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Anybody else seeing Chevy

Anybody else seeing Chevy Chase in European Vacation?

ExtraordinaryGirl
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ExtraordinaryGirl 07/14/08 - 06:34 pm
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Wow, Augusta has a roundabout

Wow, Augusta has a roundabout now? I'm from Augusta, but moved to England in 2007, where I'm currently living. Roundabouts aren't hard at all once you get the idea down, but it's just strange for me to think of a roundabout in my home town.

Argh, I just know when I'm home visiting, if I drive on it, it's going to feel like it's going in the wrong direction.

And in response to justthefacts above, when I was taking driving lessons over here for my UK license, whenever I went around a roundabout, I was forever saying, "Look kids, there's Big Ben!" to my driving instructor, who'd never seen the movie, and so had NO IDEA what I was talking about.

Bryt
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Bryt 07/14/08 - 07:13 pm
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I live on Hilton Head and

I live on Hilton Head and drive both of the main traffic circles every day. If they are one-lane circles they are great - it's the two lane ones that are a real pain. Hopefully the Scott Nixon one is a one-laner...

tchnga
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tchnga 07/14/08 - 08:47 pm
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I got dizzy just watching the

I got dizzy just watching the video

nightcop
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nightcop 07/14/08 - 11:26 pm
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between the morons that don't

between the morons that don't know what YIELD means and the morons that will get lost going in a circle, it should work just fine. good luck!

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 07/15/08 - 01:49 pm
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Thanks for posting, Bryt. I

Thanks for posting, Bryt. I have never been in one of these circles with two lanes, and I am wondering about how difficult it might be to change lanes. If you were in the inside lane in the circle and your street was coming up, you would need to change to the outside lane. If there was someone beside you, you would just have to go around again until the outside lane opened up. You could get dizzy!

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 07/15/08 - 01:50 pm
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And I wonder what would tempt

And I wonder what would tempt someone to move to the inside lane in the first place! Is the inside lane the "passing" circle?

HippieChick
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HippieChick 07/15/08 - 05:19 pm
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I like the traffic circle's

I like the traffic circle's in Hilton Head and think it's good idea. Beats sitting at a red light....

ExtraordinaryGirl
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ExtraordinaryGirl 07/16/08 - 05:17 am
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Little Lamb, the inside lane

Little Lamb, the inside lane of the roundabouts --I can only speak for England's roundabouts, but I'm sure it would most likely be the same for any roundabout-- is generally to allow for traffic turning right. For example, think of the face of a clock. BASICALLY, if you're turning left, or travelling straight on, and you're anywhere on the left hand side of the clock, before or up to 12, then you'd use the outside lane. If you're turning right, or turning around, or turning anywhere in the direction on the right hand side of the clock, PAST 12, then you'd get in the inside lane. Of course there are exceptions to this rule, depending on the actual roundabout's connecting roads, but that's the basic idea. So the two lanes give you a BASIC idea of where the other driver is going. When your exit comes up, and you're in the inside lane, you'll move over into the outside lane about one exit beforehand, to ensure that you're in the correct position to exit. It's REALLY easy once you get used to it, and it does keep the traffic flowing. I have to say, though, and it should go WITHOUT saying, that using signals to let other cars know your intentions --roundabouts or not-- is vital.

ExtraordinaryGirl
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ExtraordinaryGirl 07/16/08 - 05:22 am
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Note: I'm sure the above

Note: I'm sure the above directions would most likely be the same for any roundabout, yes, but of course for the US ones, you'd basically have to "flip" sides. So I imagine outside lane/left side of clock would be turning left, and inner lane/right handside of clock would be turning right. Wow, I had to really think about that whole flipping the sides of the road thing for a minute.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 07/16/08 - 07:59 am
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I was getting a bit confused

I was getting a bit confused about the left and right, but you cleared it up. You must really be extraordinary, Girl! Thanks for the reply. It sounds like you need the two-lane circles when you have something more complicated than a normal intersection. I suppose you would need a two-lane circle if you have a "five-points" or something like that. It might be fun to try one on Walton way where there is now a light where Forest Hills subdivision is - the school and all that mess.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 07/16/08 - 08:09 am
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Oh, yes, and how about a

Oh, yes, and how about a roundabout to replace the two lights at Highland and Walton Way. You might have to tear down a house or two (eminent domain) to make it work, but not to have to stop there would make a lot of motorists happy.

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