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Full Circle: Roundabout boosts safety, traffic flow

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The county’s second roundabout will make a Center Grove area intersection safer for motorists by preventing backups and accidents.

The county started construction on a roundabout at the intersection of Whiteland Road and County Road 144 in September and opened it last week.

The roundabout will be similar to the first roundabout the county built at the intersection of Fairview and Morgantown roads and is meant to make the intersection safer for the nearly 10,000 motorists who use it every day, Johnson County Highway Department Director Luke Mastin said.

Mastin said a few accidents have taken place at the intersection each year, but the possibility for accidents was higher than at other intersections because of the way the two roads were aligned.

The roundabout is also part of a larger project that involves making Whiteland Road a main road for motorists traveling east-west, Mastin said.

That project includes widening Whiteland Road from County Road 144 to State Road 135 and creating another roundabout at the intersection of Morgantown and Whiteland roads.

Construction on the first section of the Whiteland Road project from State Road 135 to Saddle Club Road will be finished by the end of next week, but the entire project will not be complete until the end of 2013, Mastin said.

County officials have wanted to create an east-west corridor to connect Johnson County to Shelby and Morgan counties for more than 20 years, but they held off on the construction because the Johnson County did not have enough money to complete the project, said State Rep. John Price, who is also a former county commissioner.

Price said motorists have multiple options for traveling north-south through the county but do not have any roads that take them east-west. With the county growing in population, motorists need a road to take them east-west, he said.

The county decided to start planning the east-west project in 2010 after it received a low interest rate for a $6 million loan, Price said.

That same year, the county received federal funds to pay for 80 percent of the $1.7 million needed for the roundabout at the Whiteland Road and County Road 144 intersection, Mastin said.

To pay for the other 20 percent of the project, about $340,000, the county agreed to split the costs with Bargersville, Mastin said.

Before the county built the roundabout at Whiteland Road and County Road 144, the intersection had a two-way stop that made traffic on Whiteland Road stop at the intersection while traffic on County Road 144 didn’t have to.

Vehicles pulled into the intersection blindly, causing a few motorists to get in accidents each year, Mastin said.

To make the intersection safer, the county discussed building a roundabout or putting in a traffic signal.

Mastin said the roundabout was a better option because it will allow traffic from both roads to keep driving through the intersection without stopping and will prevent accidents because motorists cannot speed through the intersection.

Like the roundabout at the intersection of Fairview and Morgantown roads, the new roundabout is one lane with traffic flowing counterclockwise.

Local motorists will be able to navigate the new roundabout easily because they have become familiar with the Fairview Road roundabout, Mastin said.

The third roundabout the county plans to build at the intersection of Whiteland and Morgantown roads will also be one lane and should be open by fall 2013, Mastin said.

The county has the option of expanding both of the new roundabouts to two lanes in the future, but Mastin said the county decided to make them one lane for now because the intersections do not get enough traffic to warrant two lanes.

“Two-lane roundabouts can be a bit more confusing for drivers in terms of which lane to be in to make the turning movement they want to make,” Mastin said.

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