A roundabout on Highway 144 where it intersects with Belfast River road is set to be completed by July, Bryan County Administrator Ben Taylor told county commissioners Tuesday night.
“I can’t reiterate the fact enough, this is a small miracle as far as (the Georgia Department of Transportation) is concerned, moving this fast on a project,” Taylor said.
The roundabout was rumored for months to be in the works, and a DOT spokesperson earlier confirmed it was being discussed, but there was no confirmation until Tuesday night’s county commission meeting in Pembroke.
The intersection where the roundabout will be constructed is in a congested area of 144 that includes both the South Bryan County Administrative Complex, Henderson Park and the growing Buckhead East neighborhood. Adding to the traffic will be McAllister Elementary, which is being built on land between the park and Buckhead East.
Belfast River Road, meanwhile, includes traffic from a number of nearby subdivisions and Richmond Hill Middle School. The roundabout will “help relieve traffic congestion (at the intersection”,” Taylor said.
“And it will “take a deputy off the road, or two,” Commissioner Steve Myers said.
“And it will slow down traffic,” commissioner Carter Infinger noted.
No cost for the project was available Tuesday, but the roundabout is apparently part of the overall widening of Highway 144 that has been estimated at $18 million. That project is now set to begin in either 2018 or 2019, Taylor told commissioners, and the roundabout will be in phases, with the first being replaced by a larger one.
Roundabouts are apparently gaining in popularity in Georgia because they reportedly allow traffic to keep moving without the need for traffic lights. But they can be confusing to drivers not used to them.
“As somebody said to me, ‘Are you going to put something in the middle of it to keep people from driving straight through it?’” County Commission Chairman Jimmy Burnsed said. “I hope they put up reflectors, a sign, something.”
Burnsed credited retired DOT engineer Glenn Durrence for helping make the roundabout a reality.
“This wouldn’t have happened without his help,” Burnsed said. “I’m going to write him a letter thanking him.”
Ultimately, 144 is set to be widened from Timber Trail Road to Belfast River Road. That project has been in the works for more than a decade, and in 2006 the DOT estimated work on the widening would start in 2010.