FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. - Detour signs came down Friday, Oct. 14, marking the opening of Fort Leonard Wood’s first roundabout in the vicinity of Alabama, Iowa and Nebraska avenues.
Completion of the nearly eight-month project is expected to help lessen traffic snares associated with the morning and evening commutes of those traveling to and from the southern part of the installation.
Commuters have had to take alternate routes since February when construction began on the $1.8 million project, a joint effort between the Fort Leonard Wood Directorate of Public Works and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Renewal of degraded infrastructure discovered during the excavation process delayed the scheduled opening by several months, according to Travis Lynch, Fort Leonard Wood South Resident Office, Kansas City District, USACE.
“The delays, while frustrating, actually allowed us to upgrade water and communication lines found to be in bad shape during the digging process,” Lynch said. “Everything within the roundabout construction area is now new.”
Roundabouts are common in Europe, but despite the tens of thousands of roundabouts in operation around the world, there are only a few hundred in the United States.
“It is a great idea, because the traffic flow is much faster,” said Pat Daniels, installation anti-terrorism officer. “It will definitely cut down on what were long waiting times at the stop signs.”
Daniels, who lives in Plato, said the opening would not save him time to work, since he comes in very early, but will save him around 15 minutes on the trip home.
“I hope (the roundabout) alleviates the traffic situation, especially with the high volume of larger vehicles causing traffic jams,” said Brandi Couch, budget analyst, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood, who commutes with her mom and husband from Plato. “It will definitely save some time getting to and from work.”
Upon entering a roundabout, all vehicles turn in the same direction — to the right. You simply continue around the circle in a counterclockwise direction, until you come to the road or street you want. Then you leave the traffic circle by making a right turn.
“Engineers took into consideration that some student drivers would not be familiar with and might have difficulty navigating the roundabout,” said Randy Knutson, DPW Planning Division construction coordinator.
The roundabout also contains heavy-duty concrete with a thickened edge to handle larger, heavier vehicles.
“We would like to thank the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security; the Directorate of Emergency Services; the Fort Leonard Wood Fire Department and the Missouri National Guard for their input and cooperation, especially on how to best set up the detour routes,” Lynch said.
A traffic light was the original plan, but engineers said after a second look, the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command and Transportation Engineering Agency recommended installation of a roundabout as the best solution.
“This intersection was a nightmare, particularly when trying to move traffic from Nebraska or Alabama onto or across Iowa, especially during the evening commute time,” Knutson said.
“It was obvious to most of us who use this intersection on a daily basis that some form of traffic control was needed. I think this roundabout will fit the bill nicely,” Knutson added.