As many as four roundabouts could be built in Greenwood over the next few years.
Roundabouts have been gaining in popularity in central Indiana because of how they move cars through intersections more quickly and prevent nasty T-bone wrecks. Greenwood plans to build four of them over the next few years and wants to look at even more in the future.
Greenwood currently doesn’t have any roundabouts on its main streets, though they can be found in the Greenwood Park Mall parking lot, in a few subdivisions and, increasingly, on county roads. Johnson County has built roundabouts at Morgantown and Fairview roads and at County Road 144 and Whiteland Road in the past three years and plans to build another at Morgantown and Whiteland roads. Franklin also wants to build a roundabout at a Main Street intersection.
Within the next few years, motorists should expect to see roundabouts on Greenwood’s west, southwest and southeast sides and near the Greenwood Cemetery. Roundabouts also likely will be included at the busiest intersections in each major road construction project in the city, Mayor Mark Myers said.
Typically, roundabouts cost more than traditional intersections, because they require that more land be purchased and paved over. Stoplights typically cost $250,000 or more, while roundabout cost estimates have ranged from $500,000 to $2.1 million, depending on the location.
Recent roundabout projects often have been in the range of $800,000 to $1 million.
One benefit is that they can be funded with federal safety grants, with the federal government picking up 90 percent of the cost instead of the typical 80 percent, Myers said.
Local taxpayers don’t have to shoulder most of the cost, which is funded largely with federal gas tax dollars. City governments don’t have to figure out how to come up with the funding and are responsible for only a fraction of the cost, Myers said.
The city is asking for federal funds to build roundabouts at Main Street and Averitt Road, Honey Creek and Stones Crossing roads, and now at Smith Valley and Yorktown roads. Another roundabout is planned at Worthsville and Sheek roads, as part of the Worthsville Road expansion.
Another roundabout likely would be built at Worthsville and Averitt roads whenever the city gets the funding to continue widening Worthsville into an east-west corridor west of U.S. 31, Myers said. The city will try to build roundabouts at all major intersections when doing road rebuilding and widening projects, he added.
The city wouldn’t put them at intersections where there’s not a lot of cross-traffic but will at least consider including them at the busier intersections when rebuilding or adding lanes to a road.
“I’m a big proponent of roundabouts,” the mayor said.
Myers, a former police detective, said he is most concerned with safety. Fewer crashes happen in roundabouts and, when they do, they’re less severe.
Greenwood likely will launch an educational campaign to teach drivers how to use
roundabouts, since people sometimes say they’re confusing. The circular intersections are easy to use once drivers get used to them, but the city wants to ensure that everyone is comfortable driving on them, he said.
Hamilton County has seen the number of accidents involving injuries shrink by about 80 percent at four-way stops that were turned into roundabouts, Myers said. Carmel has built 26 roundabouts in the past five years and has plans to build at least 27 more.
“It brings down the number of accidents, but you also don’t have the head-on collisions,” Myers said. “You don’t have as much property damage, and you have a much, much lower number of personal injuries.”
Greenwood wants to build a roundabout at Smith Valley and Yorktown roads to cut down on accidents. Police did a traffic study, and found it was one of the most dangerous intersections in the city, Myers said.
The intersection is next to the entrance to the Barrington subdivision, and impatient drivers try to turn in front of traffic on Smith Valley Road, community development services director Mark Richards said.
The intersection also can get congested because of stopped vehicles turning into nearby neighborhoods, Richards said.
Roundabouts are meant to cut down on congestion and make traffic flow more smoothly.
The circular intersections also should give people the positive impression that Greenwood is a modern, forward-thinking city, Myers said.
“They have more of an aesthetic look and are appealing to the eye,” he said. “It’s inviting people to see Greenwood as an up-and-coming city again.”
Greenwood is applying for federal grants for roundabouts at Smith Valley and Yorktown roads, Main Street and Averitt Road, Honey Creek and Stones Crossing roads. The city already has approved spending more than $360,000 to buy land and design the roundabouts on Main Street and Stones Crossing Road.
Those intersections become a higher priority for federal funding when the land has been purchased and the design work is already done, Richards said.
“They like projects that are shovel-ready,” he said.
The roundabout at Smith Valley and Yorktown roads was recently added to the list.
Greenwood hopes to obtain funding for all three of the proposed roundabouts and be able to start construction next year, Myers said. How many roundabouts the city actually does would depend on what federal funding is approved.
The proposed roundabout at Worthsville and Sheek roads also will be done in 2014, as part of a $20 million widening project along Worthsville Road between Interstate 65 and U.S. 31.