Roundabout proposed for busy intersection

Cameron Koch

A familiar intersection near campus may be getting an overhaul next year in the form of a roundabout.

A roundabout would change the intersection of University Boulevard, US 31W Bypass and Loving Way from a standard stoplight intersection to a circular intersection featuring almost continuously flowing traffic.

The project is expected to begin during the spring of 2014 and continue into the fall.

A public meeting will be held at the Carroll Knicely Conference Center on Feb. 21 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. for discussion about the proposed change. The project is estimated to cost around $2.9 million.

Keirsten Jaggers, public information officer for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 3, said though she wouldn’t describe the current intersection as a problem area, it is incredibly busy. A roundabout, Jaggers said, is the best option for improving the intersection.

“It will just keep traffic flowing at a steady pace,” Jaggers said.

Jaggers said a roundabout reduces the “conflict points” or possible collision scenarios from 32 to eight. Reduced speed through the roundabout will also help reduce the number of high-injury or fatal collisions.

“You’re still going to have crashes, but they are going to be a lower speed,” Jaggers said. “You just can’t drive through this thing super fast.”

The ability to turn left on Highway 31 from Chestnut Street will be eliminated with the creation of the roundabout. Drivers will instead be forced to turn right and drive through the circle to head north up the highway.

“This will hopefully reduce the number of crashes at that location,” Jaggers said.

Bryan Russell, director of Planning, Design and Construction, said WKU isn’t handling the construction of the project, but will obviously be affected by it due to it’s close proximity to campus.

“We’re not against them putting in a roundabout,” Russell said. “They’ve been studying that intersection for a very long time.”

The project began to come together about four years ago, Jaggers said.

Jennifer Tougas, director of Parking and Transportation at WKU, has been involved with many of the meetings concerning the roundabout.

Tougas said traffic disruption to campus will be minimal, as the majority of construction will take place over the summer.

“I think it will help campus traffic,” Tougas said. “I think there will be a learning curve associated with it, but once people get the hang of it, it will be good.”