Local motorists will soon need to get used to a whole new style of intersection for Merrill. The roundabout currently under construction at the intersection of Hwy. 64 and Center Avenue is slated to open in mid-November.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) will conduct a meeting to provide information about roundabouts on Oct. 26 from 6-7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers of Merrill City Hall, 1004 E. First St., Merrill.
The meeting will focus on roundabouts: what they are, why they are being built and what motorists need to know about navigating through them. The meeting will follow an open house format. A brief presentation is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. WisDOT staff will be available to answer questions.
The roundabout will replace the traffic lights at the intersection. WisDOT project manager Richard Simon noted that roundabouts are designed to be more efficient and safer than signalized intersections.
“We’re trying to reduce conflict points with a roundabout,” he said. “Roundabouts are designed to slow you down, making it more of a free flow while reducing the number of traffic accidents.”
During road reconstruction projects at signalized intersections, WisDOT analyzes the feasibility of replacing the signals with a roundabout. The traffic patterns at the Hwy. 64/Center Avenue intersection are typical of where other roundabouts have been built in the state, Simon said.
“A roundabout is preferred because it reduces the number and severity of accidents,” he said. It also means less delay because you don’t have to stop.”
At the Hwy. 64/Center Avenue intersection, building the roundabout actually required less real estate than straightening out the signalized intersection. The two roads don’t meet at right angles, Simon explained, and the roundabout fit nicely with minimal land acquisition required.
Additional signage at the intersection will provide positive directions to motorists entering the roundabout. The first rule to driving a roundabout is to slow down and obey the signs, followed by yielding to pedestrians and bicyclists. Because of the design of the roundabout, traffic is forced to slow to about 15-20 mph as it enters the roundabout.
All traffic will move through the roundabout by turning right. Vehicles entering the roundabout need to yield to the traffic already in the roundabout,