New traffic patterns planned in Grand Island
The Public Works Department of Grand Island released their 1 and 6 Year Street Improvement Plan for 2019 and beyond. One of the major projects to be started will be to solve the issues with the 5-points intersection at Broadwell Ave, State St, and Eddy St.
According to John Collins, the City Engineer Public Works Director for Grand Island, 80 collisions with over $1000 in damage occurred in 2018 at the intersection. A traffic circle like the one proposed should solve many issues, including incident frequency, and overall efficiency of the criss-crossed streets. "Reported collisions, those with damage over a thousand dollars should go way down. Definitely nowhere near the 80 that we're having now."
With a roundabout, it forces drivers to slow down on approach, which reduces odds of a collision. Additionally, with only yielding direction being to the left, this can reduce blind spot dangers. And if you miss your turn, you can always loop back around safely, and not merge into parallel traffic.
Traffic-circle incidents do occur, although the slower speeds greatly reduce the damages. According to Collins, they are "usually very minor collisions, very minor damage, injuries are extremely rare." Side-swipe collisions are the most common type when incoming traffic fails to yield to the traffic in the circle.
Five-points is the first intersection being considered. Other places on West Old Potash Highway, and even on 281 at the new hospital complex are planned to be studied in 2019 for future roundabouts. While the five-points is proposed through 2020 costing just over $700,000 dollars (80% being federally funded), West Old Potash Highway would be a much larger undertaking. This year's plan shows it lasting through 2022, and total costs exceeding $11million dollars.
The newest roundabout for the city is at 13th St and North Rd in West GI. While drivers were hesitant, Collins says that after learning the system, it has become easier and congestion has greatly decreased. That's the benefit of the continuous-flow intersection. Efficiency increases, with little need to come to a complete stop, and reducing the opportunity for speeders to cut through a red light or a stop sign. As Collins says, "it's approaching a turn, so drivers have to set their speed so that they can make a turn. At a traditional intersection, there may be a stop sign or a signal, drivers may stop, or they may not stop."
Including the Sycamore underpass, annual asphalt resurfacing, and other smaller projects, total 2019 improvements are projected to be just over $4million dollars, though that figure does not include all capital projects.