Conyers roundabout project is latest in transportation trend

The city of Conyers is planning to build its second traffic roundabout, and it could be part of a larger trend in Georgia.

City officials will hold a public information meeting from 4-6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16, to talk about the roundabout project to replace the current four-way stop intersection of O’Kelly Street and Oakland Avenue (the southeast corner of the Nancy Guinn Library property). The meeting will be at the Veal Street Community Center, located at 1160 Veal Street.

Once completed, the Oakland-O’Kelly intersection will be Conyers’ second traffic roundabout. The other one is just a block down the street, and you can’t miss it with the Adventure Mountain bronze statute on the island.

Roundabouts are getting their due lately. Newton County has one at Turner Lake Road and Clark Street. DeKalb

The bronze statue Adventure Mountain resides on the traffic island of the roundabout located at the intersection of Hardin, O’Kelly and Travis streets in Conyers. Photo courtesy of waymarking.com.

County has a roundabout very close to Rockdale County at Klondike and Rockland roads. Henry County just completed a roundabout at East Lake Road and Ga. 20, and the city of McDonough is planning one on the west side of town at McDonough Parkway and Ga. 20 (Hampton-McDonough Road). They are popping up more and more.

The general public comments on roundabouts of the past were derision. I recall attending a few planning commission meetings during my early days at the Citizen where folks poo-pooed roundabouts as confusing and “European” (somehow insinuated they are un-American). Today, the Georgia Department of Transportation has pushed roundabout construction toward the top of their to-do list for intersection improvements.

My research shows that transportation officials believe roundabouts move traffic more efficiently and make dangerous or congested intersections safer. I tend to agree having driven through the Turner Lake Road-Clark Street intersection before and after the roundabout was installed there.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a roundabout story from 2015 that explains GDOT’s reasoning for adding them to their projects list here. I could not find a preview story from the Citizen. My bet is they will cover the meeting.

The city of Sandy Springs is working on a proposing a roundabout at Mt. Paran and Powers Ferry roads, possibly one of the busiest intersections in the metro Atlanta area (you would agree with me if you have ever had to navigate the intersection). The Reporter newspaper has a story on that project here.

The AJC story mentions close to 200 roundabouts in Georgia being completed, under construction or planned. There are probably more projects since the AJC story. Here is an excellent example of data journalism from the AJC’s roundabout map, here.

I also noticed the AJC reports a roundabout in north Rockdale County at Ga. 20-Candler Road-West Hightower. This is the first I had heard about it, so I do not know how close the project is to being built, or even if it’s an active project for the county.

The city’s open house Thursday is to hear from the public before cranking up the bulldozers. This roundabout project is part of Conyers’ Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) streetscape project that has received help from the Atlanta Regional Commission since 2010. A link to the ARC and all the studies done on Conyers’ LCI can be found here.

According to the city, the LCI program is funded by federal transportation dollars, and communities pay matching

The city of Conyers is planning to build a traffic roundabout at the intersection of O’Kelly Street and Oakland Avenue. The traffic project is part of the city’s long-term Livable Communities Initiative. Mapping by Google Maps.

funds to help cover project costs. The Hardin/O’Kelly LCI streetscape improvement project is projected to cost $5.3 million, of which $4.24 million are federal funds and $1.06 million are local funds.

Here is what the city explains in its press release on the open house meeting:

The LCI project proposes upgrading Hardin and O’Kelly streets to include provisions for continuous bicycle and pedestrian facilities and to improve the operations of the corridor with the addition of a roundabout at the intersection of O’Kelly Street and Oakland Avenue. Streetscape improvements in the form of planting strips will also be added to the project. The proposed project length is approximately 0.77 miles, beginning at the intersection of Hardin Street and Dogwood Drive and ending at the intersection of O’Kelly Street and Green Street. Construction of the roundabout and replacement of a culvert will require a detour during construction.

The open house will be informal and allow the public to view the proposed detour, ask questions and comment on the proposal. Written statements will be accepted concerning the project until February 28, 2017, and may be submitted to Department of Public Works and Transportation Deputy Director Brian Frix, City of Conyers, 1184 Scott Street, Conyers, Georgia 30012.

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