New intersection opens near school campus

By Ed Nadolski

Editor in Chief

Traffic entering and leaving the Burlington High School-Gateway Technical College campus changed in a major way Thursday as a newly created roundabout intersection on Highway 142 at McCanna Parkway opened.

The $4 million project, which began in mid May, creates a second entrance for the campus.

“The new roundabout safely connects (Highway 142) and McCanna Parkway and improves access to the high school/technical college,” said Dan Sellers, a communications specialist with the state Department of Transportation. “Previously, drivers coming from the south had to drive around through the city.”

The completion of the project fulfills a pledge made by former Burlington Town Chairman Kurt Petrie in 2007, but the proposal languished over concerns about the cost of the overpass removal and the jurisdictional transfer for that stretch of highway.

The DOT eventually agreed to pay for the project and the City of Burlington agreed to assume jurisdictional responsibility for that stretch of the highway – meaning the city will maintain and patrol the area of the intersection.

City Administrator Carina Walters recently toured the intersection to get a sense of the city’s responsibilities, which include paying for the electricity to power the streetlights and plowing the intersection in winter.


Proceed with caution

As the first roundabout in the Burlington area, drivers who are not accustomed to such intersections will face a learning curve.

“It’s a new traffic movement,” Sellers said. “We ask that motorists take their time in approaching the roundabout and to be aware of their surroundings. Vehicles won’t be the only traffic here.”

Complicating matters will be a relatively high level of pedestrian and recreational traffic in the area.

“Because of the intersection’s proximity to the schools, Bushnell Park and White River State Trail, we worked with the City of Burlington to help them provide and maintain a safe interaction with pedestrian and bicycle traffic,” Sellers said.

While roundabouts still make up less that 1 percent of the state’s intersections, the DOT has been an advocate of the rotary intersections because they have been proven to reduce serious crashes and long-term costs.

According to the agency, roundabouts are:

  • Proven to reduce the number of severe injury crashes and deaths;
  • Provide a good economic value;
  • Reduce delay and improve traffic flow;
  • Are a greener alternative with less vehicle idling, lower fuel emissions and less wasted fuel.

The DOT offers the following tips for drivers navigating through a roundabout:

  • Slow down;
  • Watch for and obey traffic signs;
  • Move into the correct lane the direction you want to travel as you approach the roundabout;
  • Yield to pedestrians and bicyclists as you enter and exit the roundabout;
  • Yield to all lanes of traffic on your left before entering;
  • Keep your speed low and stay in your lane within the roundabout;
  • Exit carefully to your destination. Use your right-turn signal, in front of the splitter island just prior to your exit, to indicate your intention to exit.


Intersections resurfaced

In addition to the roundabout construction, the project included resurfacing a four-mile stretch of Highway 142 from Edgewood Street on the west to Highway J on the east. The relatively new interchange with the Highway 11/36/83 bypass is excluded from the resurfacing project. The resurfacing included improvements to the intersections at Brever Road, Wheatland Road, Womack Lane, Shagbark Lane, Horseshoe Trail and Highway J, according to the DOT.