Junction City officials may consider installing a roundabout at the intersection of Eisenhower Drive and McFarland Road.
Kaw Valley Engineering’s Brian Coon presented plans for a proposed roundabout there during this week’s city commission meeting. He said the two streets come together at an acute angle, which presents challenges for drivers.
“Anyone looking to the right, getting ready to make a left turn is going to start to have difficulty,” Coon said.
Coon referenced a comprehensive plan regarding the roads that was designed in 2017, which was adopted by Junction City and Geary County officials.
“It recognized a need for increased capacity,” Coon said. “That northbound traffic is quick. What can you do to slow down traffic? Unless you want to have a police officer sitting out there all the time, we try and put in something that slows people down by design.”
A roundabout would present several safety improvements, including better visibility, improved efficiency and drivers would avoid having to make hard stops, Coon said. A roundabout would also greatly minimize the possibility of a T-bone accident.
“It’s very difficult to T-bone somebody in a roundabout,” Coon said. “You actually have to go through the roundabout to hit someone. And the most dangerous place to get hit is on your left side, because there’s always someone sitting in the driver’s seat. Where you want to get hit is on the passenger side, at the shallowest angle possible. That’s what roundabouts let you do. They’re going to hit the side of you and glance off. Even when there are crashes, they’re inherently less severe because of the orientation of the vehicles.”
Roundabouts also reduce the possibilities of drivers becoming sidetracked with outside elements and losing focus, Coon said. This is due to the fact that drivers do not have to come to complete stops, like they do at traffic signals, which is when drivers have a tendency to check their phones, he said.
“It’s becoming an epidemic,” Coon said. “In a roundabout, you don’t have that time where people are stopped to do bad things. Those are the times we stop paying attention and fatalities occur.”
Roundabouts also provide enhanced visibility, because there is no need for drivers to look to their right, Coon said.
“You just look to your left, and it’s not even a hard left,” Coon said. “You see every single car that can come and run into you. They’re all going to be coming from a shallow left.”
Coon presented a proposed design for a roundabout at the location, which would include realigning a driveway on the west side of the intersection.
“It takes a minimal amount of existing property and creates a much safer roadside environment,” Coon said.
Mayor Pat Landes noted that the proposed roundabout was recommended by the 2017 comprehensive plan, as well as the Kansas Department of Transportation.
“This wasn’t something the commission just came up with to throw some money at,” Landes said. “It was done for a purpose. And I think there’s people in this community that need to understand that.”
Landes noted that the project may line up well in qualifying for a community development block grant — which, if acquired, would partially fund the project using outside dollars — and city officials are expected to apply for one.