Monday, February 26, marked the official opening the new Roundabout on Frederick Road.This is the third and last phase of the Frederick Road project that began in 1990. The Opelika Engineering Department revised the design of the intersection of Frederick Road, Auburn Street and ML King Boulevard from a signalized intersection to a single lane, modern roundabout.This roundabout design is not like any other in the area because it is capable of handling tens of thousands of vehicles per day in a smooth, steady flow without the requirement to STOP at a signal. This roundabout has also been designed to handle full size (54-foot) truck with its large radius, wide lanes and mountable, colored concrete apron.
“After many months, we are pleased to be opening Frederick Road to traffic. We would like to thank everyone for being patient while detours were in place. This extension and roundabout is going to be a great conduit to downtown,” said Mayor Gary Fuller.
Roundabouts are proven to be safer than traditional stop signs or signal controlled intersections. There are several reasons why roundabouts help reduce traffic problems – drivers must slow to a reduced speed; there is no light to beat; they promote continuous, circular flow of traffic; and the curved roads and one-way travel eliminate the possibility for T-bone or head-on collisions. Roundabouts are also proven to be safer for pedestrian crossings because they provide a protected, concrete “splitter” island between the lanes of travel.
“We are pleased with the design and construction of the area’s first modern roundabout. Not only will it improve the flow of traffic from Tiger Town to Downtown, but the landscaping and pedestrian facilities that are part of this project will create a magnificent gateway to the downtown area. With the continuing improvements to the sidewalk, resurfacing and lighting all the way down Auburn Street and ML King Avenue, the neighborhood and drive will be completely transformed,” said Scott Parker, City Engineer.
Parker added, there are several things that citizens need to be aware of including traffic change details, ongoing construction details and how-to drive a roundabout.
Traffic Change Details
- The intersection with Frederick Road and South Long Street will be turned into a TWO WAY stop sign intersection. Frederick Road traffic will NOT stop any longer.
- The intersection of Auburn Street to South Long Street will be eliminated and Auburn Street by the cemetery will only have access from Frederick Road. This traffic will need to go to the roundabout and there will NOT be a stop or yield at South Long Street.
- There are a few driveways that have access inside the circle. These houses must turn right out of their driveway and proceed around the circle until they reach their turn.
- Roadway and intersection will be open to traffic, but work will continue on Auburn Street, ML King Boulevard and Frederick Road replacing water lines, sidewalk and curb and gutter.
- Work will also continue on the roundabout under traffic placing the “splitter islands” at each roadway intersection.
- Opelika Utilities currently has a project to replace the water lines on Auburn Street and ML King Boulevard from the new roundabout to Avenue B and Clanton Street. Once all the water lines are replaced, the City of Opelika will replace the sidewalks and curb along these roads and then will place the final surface of asphalt throughout the entire project Auburn Street, ML King Boulevard at Clanton Street all the way through the roundabout, down Frederick Road past the intersection of South Long Street.
How to Drive a Roundabout
- Slow down as you approach the intersection 15-20 mph
- Look for pedestrians to your right at the crosswalks. Stop if pedestrians are present.
- Look for vehicles in the circle to your left. If there are no vehicles, proceed taking a slight right along the circle. If there is a vehicle, slow or stop to let them pass. Vehicles in the circle have the right of way.
- Once in the circle, proceed to the desired turnoff, signal, watch and yield for pedestrians in the splitter island. The splitter island is a concrete median in the shape of a triangle between the two lanes of traffic at each leg of the roundabout. This island separates the traffic with the buffer and allows the pedestrian a safe place in the center of the roadway while crossing.
- Slow down (you may not have to stop though)
- Look to the right for pedestrians and to the left for traffic in the circle
- If no one is there, keep right and keep going.
- Find your road and veer right.
For more information, please contact the City of Opelika Engineering Department at 334.705.5450.