FAIRBORN — The City of Fairborn is aiming to increase safety, improve efficiency and ease traffic signal maintenance calls by constructing and implementing a roundabout intersection at Col. Glenn Highway and Kauffman Avenue.
“There’s over 5,000 roundabouts that have been installed in the U.S. since 1990, so there’s been a lot of testing and [available] data on them,” Fairborn City Engineer Don O’Connor said. “That’s why we feel so confident moving forward with this solution in Fairborn — it’s been tested all over the country and they work all over the country.”
City officials are, however, expecting push-back from citizens on this project. Thus, fairbornroundabout.com, a website aimed to provide data and answer citizens questions about such project, was created. Information directed at keeping citizens abreast of the current happenings in the project as well as answering additional questions that may surface in the future are expected to be posted on the website as the development of the roundabout moves forward.
According to the website, roundabouts reduce the amount of collisions by 37 percent; decrease the amount of pedestrian crashes by 40 percent; subtract injury collisions by 75 percent and lessen the amount of fatalities by 90 percent. The current intersection at Col. Glenn Highway and Kauffman Avenue is the fifth most dangerous intersection crash area in the city, the website said.
“One of the reasons why [roundabouts reduce collisions] is there’s less conflict points where you cross other vehicle’s paths. It’s not as frequent with pedestrians also,” O’Connor said. “People also have to slow down to drive around the roundabout, so the high-speed collisions are reduced. Efficiency, also, because you don’t have to stop at a roundabout if there’s no other traffic.”
The website lists rear-end crashes as an issue at the intersection as well, crediting the skewed angle in which Col. Glenn and Kauffman meet, giving more allowance to the speed that drivers turn from Col. Glenn onto Kauffman while creating less visibility of oncoming traffic. The skewed angle at the intersection also creates a possibility for “T-bone” crashes to take place more often as well, according to the website.
O’Connor said installing a roundabout in that area will allow the city to take on not only the safety and efficiency issues it currently experiences there, but solve traffic signal maintenance calls as well.
“The traffic signal is almost 50 years old and we have a lot of maintenance calls, so it’s costing us money to maintain that signal,” he said. “So it’s time to replace the signal anyway and with a history of crashes at this intersection, this solution makes sense to fix all those problems with one project.”
It is currently expected to cost $820,000 with $336,694 being covered by federal grant money provided by the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission.
While the city is not currently considering installing a roundabout at other locations beyond the Col. Glenn and Kauffman intersection, city officials can envision where additional roundabouts would benefit the city. However, no serious considerations area happening at this time.
“The challenge with Fairborn or any other older urban area is the right-of-ways are narrower, the buildings are closer to the right-of-way, so the footprint that we see here is different than a traditional intersection,” O’Connor said. “Right-of-way purchasing is a big thing that can keep roundabouts from being installed.”
Council approved the design contract for the roundabout project at a recent regular meeting, allowing the current focus to stay on creating a detailed design. Construction is expected to start in spring 2019, while the project faces the possibility of completion by winter 2019.
O’Connor is aiming to involve citizens throughout the project. A public meeting highlighting the design process is slated to take place in the fall months, followed by a public meeting to focus on the completed design by spring 2018.
“We want this process to be as open as possible and get as much feedback as possible,” O’Connor said. “We know it’s new, so we really are making an effort to reach out to the public to get feedback and to educate them and hopefully bring them along with us in this process so they feel comfortable.”
Reach Whitney Vickers at 937-502-4532.
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