The City of Fayetteville hopes a two-lane roundabout will relieve traffic congestion near Washington Regional Medical Center.
One lane of the roundabout will open Wednesday morning, the other is expected to open within 60 days.
Instead of stopping at the four-way stop, drivers will enter the roundabout from any of the connecting streets, said Chris Brown, Fayetteville city engineer.
“With a signal sometimes you come up and you have to stop, even when there’s no traffic,” Brown said. “With a roundabout you never have to stop if there’s nobody there then you just go right on through and there’s no stopping. It really handles the ebb and flow of traffic better than a signal does.”
Brown said the stone structure in the middle of the roundabout is designed as a safety feature for drivers.
“It helps reduce the site distance so you can’t see across the roundabout as well,” Brown said. “What that does is it will slow the traffic down. Sometimes if you can see all the way across then you have a tendency to drive faster around the circle.”
This is Fayetteville’s first and only roundabout but Brown said more could be in the city’s future.
The roundabout is the safest solution for that intersection but that it could cause confusion for the first few months, Brown said.
“What we have heard is there will maybe be a couple of months of some hesitation and confusion on the part of the drivers,” said Brown.
Andrew Hollinger lives in Fayetteville. He said he likes the idea of adding a roundabout to the city but thinks it could be confusing to drivers who are unfamiliar with that area.
“I mean right now with the construction, yes, it is kind of confusing but it is always kind of hard to adapt to something that’s different, no matter what,” Hollinger said. “I’ve seen them in different places, they do aid traffic, it keeps it flowing a lot more smoothly. I think it’s going to help overall, once people get used to it.”
During the roundabout groundbreaking back in June, construction crews found an untouched and naturally formed rock that looks just like the State of Arkansas. That rock is displayed on the east side of the stone formation on the roundabout.
Brown expects all construction to be finished by February of 2013.
The eight month project cost nearly $1.8 million.