Marietta plans first traffic roundabout

Marietta plans to start constructing the city’s first traffic roundabout by the end of the year.

The project at Fairground Street and Allgood Road is scheduled to open in spring 2012.

The roundabout is part of a $1.8 million face-lift in progress on Fairground Street. The cost for the project is covered by a countywide 2005 local option sales tax. The roundabout is expected to cost close to $450,000.

City engineer Jim Wilgus said the Fairground location made the top of the list after the city studied the standard European roundabout as a way to solve traffic problems at busy intersections.

“This intersection was the worst case,” Wilgus said. “People are confused about who has the right of way.”

Traffic feeds into the T-shaped intersection from the east and west on Allgood, and from the north end of Fairground. Drivers heading east and north have stop signs, but there is no signal for west-bound traffic from Cobb Parkway.

Marietta police Maj. Mike Hathaway said the roads back up during afternoons with traffic from nearby WellStar Kennestone Hospital and Lockheed Martin.

Hathaway  travels through the intersection several times a day and watches people hesitate before turning. He said with 11 accidents since March 2009, the intersection isn’t a high-accident area.  But he said it is one of the most difficult to navigate, and the roundabout will clear up the confusion.

Other area communities also are looking at roundabouts to ease traffic congestion and the number of accidents. Covington City Manager Steve Horton said that city’s first roundabout, which opened in November on Turner Lake Road, is doing a decent job of keeping traffic moving and helping congestion.

“During construction, we did hear negative predictions that it would be ineffective,” Horton said. “Since becoming operational, all the comments I’m aware of have been positive.”