Construction of a roundabout at Highway 144 and Belfast River Road is set to begin in early June, according to Bryan County Administrator Ben Taylor.
The Bryan County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved Preferred Materials Inc.’s $167,822 bid. The only other was $255,064 by
R.B. Baker Construction.
The Georgia Department of Transportation will pay $100,000 of the project cost, and the county will cover the rest, Taylor said.
“This is a good deal,” Commissioner Steve Myers said during a meeting May 12.
The roundabout is expected to be completed in mid-July, according to Taylor. The contract includes financial penalties for the contractor if the work is not completed on time because two schools are nearby.
“We have to have that (roundabout) open before school starts,” Taylor said.
The intersection is a congested area of Highway 144 and Belfast River Road that includes the South Bryan County Administrative Complex, Henderson Park and a number of subdivisions. Adding to the traffic will be McAllister Elementary, which is being built on land between the park and the growing Buckhead East neighborhood.
Roundabouts are becoming more common across the country. They are designed to keep traffic flowing and move high volumes of vehicles more efficiently than a traffic light would, particularly during peak times of the day.
“We’re only talking about two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. If you have a traffic light, you’re stopping traffic all day long,” Commissioners Chairman Jimmy Burnsed said. “This way, they’ll get through it.”
Burnsed added of the roundabout design, “It works. People have to get used to it.”
The DOT deemed that the intersection did not qualify for a traffic light based on its traffic count. DOT officials initially suggested adding a turning lane, Taylor said, before agreeing to the roundabout proposal.
“We’ll wind up getting something a lot better, I think, than a turning lane, for the same amount of money,” Taylor said.
In the short term, the intersection will be a bit more congested as the roundabout is being built. However, County Engineer Kirk Croasmun anticipates only one lane will be closed at a time over the course of the construction.
“I don’t see any need to shut the intersection down for any extended period of time,” Croasmun said.