Mar 26, 2013 8:26 PM by Zach Thaxton
Construction of a new roundabout at a busy intersection on Cañon City's south side is moving ahead of schedule, according to project engineers with the Colorado Department of Transportation. The $1.6 million project will replace a dangerous T-shaped intersection at South 9th Street and Elm Avenue with a roundabout nearly identical to one recently built at 15th Street and Main Street downtown. Both 9th and Elm are part of State Highway 115.
"We looked at other options as far as signalized intersections and the roundabout ended up being the best alternative," said Jay Johnson, a CDOT traffic engineer in charge of the project. "It allows traffic to flow through the intersection without putting in a stoplight and without slowing people travelling on Highway 115," Johnson said.
Johnson says roundabouts are also more safe than signalized intersections. It's not that confusion and accidents don't happen in roundabouts, Johnson says, but rather that the accidents that do happen are almost never head-on and occur at much slower speeds than at signalized intersections.
Some in Cañon City are concerned about whether semi trucks will be able to navigate the roundabout. "They have trouble hooking around the curb," said neighboring resident Al Demicell. But Johnson says raised aprons near the concrete planter at the center of the roundabout are meant specifically to allow truckers to get through without trouble. "That apron prevents small cars from getting on there, but it allows the big semis to make those movements," Johnson said.
Construction of the roundabout is slated for completion in early August, Johnson says, about a month ahead of schedule. The project will also widen Highway 115 north of the intersection and make drainage improvements. Johnson says paving of the roundabout may be complete in time for the Blossom Festival in May.