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Mon, Aug. 19

Road closure kicks off roundabout project

PRESCOTT – Drivers will experience the first impacts this weekend of the construction work still to come for installation of a roundabout at the corner of Willow Lake Road and Highway 89.

Crews will close down about 1,000 feet of Willow Lake Road near Highway 89 early Saturday morning. The section should reopen to traffic by late Sunday night or early Monday morning. The work will allow for the installation of two culverts in the roadway – all in preparation for coming intersection improvement work.

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) is planning the roundabout as a part of the widening project that is currently under way on Highway 89. The roundabout configuration will allow for continuous traffic movement, at a slower speed, with yield signs but no traffic signal at the Willow Lake Road/Highway 89 intersection.

ADOT’s Alvin Stump reported Thursday that the culvert installation is the first in a series of construction actions that will occur soon for installation of the roundabout.

Next will come utility work, Stump said. After that, drivers can expect the installation of a temporary three-way traffic signal at the intersection that will allow only right-in, right-out access to the Watson Lake Park entrance opposite from Willow Lake Road.

The restricted access will allow crews to complete some of the work at the edges of the roundabout, Stump said. The schedule for that will be “contingent on the weather,” Stump said, but he does not expect it to begin before the start of 2006.

Stump estimates that the roundabout will be more than 250 feet in diameter, including sidewalk. It will involve a two-lane configuration, along with a round, landscaped area in the center. Stump said the project will include placement of boulders and trees in the middle section.

The construction of that portion of the intersection could begin by February or March, but again, Stump stressed that it will depend upon the weather.

When ADOT first broached the idea with the community in 2004, the roundabout proposal generated plenty of debate. ADOT officials made a number of presentations to the public and to the Prescott City Council to explain the concept of roundabouts.

Ultimately, a majority of City Council members endorsed the idea, emphasizing the safety benefits. Because roundabouts require drivers to slow down considerably, experts say they reduce the severity of intersection accidents.

This weekend’s closure will affect the portion of Willow Lake Road closest to the Highway 89 intersection. Stump said it should not affect the Willow Lake Road/Prescott Lakes Parkway intersection, which will be one of the detour routes during the closure.

The Highway 89 improvement project, which Fann Contracting is doing for ADOT, includes widening the highway to five lanes, constructing the roundabout, installating the curb and gutter, and landscaping.

ADOT awarded the $7.7 million contract to Fann in June. While ADOT will pay for the bulk of the project, the city of Prescott will contribute about $1.6 million, which will cover a number of improvements, including roundabout landscaping and lighting, medians at Prescott Lakes Parkway and work at the Rosser Street intersection.

Contact the reporter at cbarks@prescottaz.com

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