Roundabout proves to be cost-effective, safe

Bowling Green’s only roundabout directs traffic at the intersection of University Boulevard, Nashville Road and Loving Way on Wednesday. Andrew Livesay/HERALD

Tommy Sullivan

Kentucky’s first two-lane roundabout turned a year old in August, and it’s a safer, cost-effective alternative to a four-way intersection. The roundabout is located next to WKU’s campus on the 31-W Bypass section also called Nashville Road.

Wes Watt, a public information officer for the Kentucky Department of Highways, said the roundabout has become a safe, efficient alternative since its creation in August 2014.

The roundabout has helped the intersection tremendously, Watt said.

Watt said there’s better traffic flow, safety and mobility, and his office has received great feedback.

Watt added that the intersection’s design had largely stayed the same from World War II to the roundabout’s installation.

Chief Facilities Officer Bryan Russell said the roundabout is a great success story for Bowling Green, WKU and the state.

The roundabout is a state project, but WKU paid for the wall and landscaping in the middle of it. WKU lost its primary campus entry due to roundabout’s construction.

Bowling Green native and sophomore Edin Hasanovic said he used to face long waits while trying to turn before the roundabout’s installation.

“I didn’t really like it that much,” Hasanovic said.

Hasanovic said he prefers the roundabout to the stoplights. However, Hasanovic said he’s frustrated by motorists who make complete stops at the yield signs when no traffic is moving through the roundabout.

Watt pointed to many safety features that have improved safety at the intersection.

Chiefly, the low speed a roundabout requires decreases the number and severity of crashes. However, Watt said, there will be accidents no matter what.

There are only eight conflict points, or spots where vehicles could collide, in a modern roundabout compared to 32 in a traditional intersection. The difference reduces the number and severity of crashes.

Watt said T-bone crashes, which are high-impact and create a greater risk of severe injury, are rare in modern roundabouts. The eight conflict points in roundabouts lend themselves to low-impact injuries and damages.

The truck apron gives plenty of extra space for large trucks to turn, according to Watt. This prevents them from crossing into other lanes.

Watt notes that large pavement markers and abundant signage let motorists know what lane to be in.

The roundabout provides more safety to pedestrians as well as motorists. Watt explained pedestrians don’t have to cross the entire roadway at one time and can stop in the middle of the roundabout. Additionally, lower vehicle speeds are safer for those crossing the street.

The roundabout has brought more efficiency to the intersection through improved traffic flow.

“People wait less,” Watt said.

However, the roundabout’s efficiency has turned into its biggest downside. It’s letting too much traffic through.

Because of the free-flowing traffic, said Watt, there’s buildup on Nashville Road from Campbell Lane to the roundabout during peak hours.

Watt said a plan to increase the number of lanes in Nashville Road is a high priority, but no official action has been taken.

“It’s doing its job,” said Watt.

Although Watt does not have any specific data, he said the roundabout saves energy and money by not using traffic lights, which run daily and require maintenance.