Originally Published: May 18, 2007 10:58 p.m.
PRESCOTT - The Highway 89/Willow Lake Road roundabout that generated trepidation in the community this past year apparently has gained acceptance and now is setting an area trend.
Just one year after the Arizona Department of Transportation opened the roundabout to traffic, the City of Prescott is considering six new roundabouts of its own at various locations.
In addition, an ADOT official reported that an upcoming Highway 89A widening project in the Cottonwood/Clarkdale area will include five roundabouts, and a Highway 179 improvement in the Sedona/
Village of Oak Creek area will include 11.
"What you're seeing in Prescott is the continuation of a national trend," said Alvin Stump, resident engineer with ADOT. "Once you have one (roundabout) in, and it's successful, the community wants more."
By most accounts, the replacement of the traffic signal at Highway 89/Willow Lake Road with a roundabout has been a success.
Stump said he bases that assessment on the movement of traffic, as well as on accident statistics.
"Obviously, it's been moving traffic, and we're not having delays," he said of the highway roundabout. In addition, "we're not having injury accidents."
City Manager Steve Norwood also characterized the roundabout as successful. "Absolutely," he said, noting that city parks and recreation officials have reported better traffic circulation during events at the nearby Watson Lake Park.
With the new roundabout working well, the Prescott City Council is considering a $362,160 contract with the Truckee, Calif., firm, Roundabouts & Traffic Engineering, for the study and possible design of roundabouts at six Prescott locations, including:
The Highway 89A/Side Road interchange (twin roundabouts).
The Side Road Connector at Highway 89.
Prescott Lakes Parkway at Sundog Ranch Road.
Prescott Lakes Parkway at the site of the future Sundog connector road.
Willow Creek Road at the south entrance to the future Park West shopping center near the Willow Creek/Pioneer Parkway intersection.
Highway 89 at Ruger Road.
Depending on the outcome of the study, Norwood said all of the roundabouts could be operating within the next three to five years.
Even so, city officials have emphasized that they would wait to see the firm's feasibility studies on each of the roundabouts before deciding whether to proceed with design.
The contract with Roundabouts & Traffic
Engineering splits the budget into two phases. At $94,050, the first phase will cover the feasibility study for all six roundabouts. The design phase - at $44,685 per intersection - would proceed only if the consultants determine the roundabouts are feasible, say city officials.
Stump agreed that the involvement of a knowledgeable consultant is an important step. "I'm glad to see the city is bringing in an expert designer," he said. "Roundabouts are more complicated than people think."
Along with the statistics on traffic and accidents, Stump said community perception also is important in the assessment of roundabouts.
"One of the ways I measure success is if the roundabout is accepted by the community," he said. And "seeing the city wanting to install more" is an additional indication of how the Highway 89/Willow Lake Road roundabout is working.
The Prescott City Council plans to vote on the contract with Roundabouts & Traffic Engineering at its 3 p.m. Tuesday meeting, after hearing a presentation from the consultant.
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