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Roundabout for busy Bibb intersection gets support from commissioners

This is the Georgia Department of Transportation’s preliminary design for a roundabout at the intersection of Pio Nono Avenue, Broadway, Houston Road and Houston Avenue.
This is the Georgia Department of Transportation’s preliminary design for a roundabout at the intersection of Pio Nono Avenue, Broadway, Houston Road and Houston Avenue.

A committee of the Macon-Bibb County Commission voted Tuesday to support putting a roundabout at a busy and troublesome intersection.

The roundabout would replace the signals that now help control traffic in what is commonly called the Seven Bridges area, where Pio Nono Avenue, Broadway and Houston Avenue merge and flow into Houston Road.

A 2016 study found that in the preceding five years, 142 wrecks happened at the intersection.

Members of the commission’s Facilities and Engineering Committee voiced some concerns about the Georgia Department of Transportation’s preliminary design for a roundabout, but ultimately they voted unanimously to support it.

“This design is so much better than what we have now,” Commissioner Gary Bechtel said. “It reduces speed, which is the goal. Hopefully if there are crashes, there is reduced speed. And it gives deference to pedestrians which is not there now.”

It’s not a certainty, however, that the project will get done, as it is not currently funded.

Tyler Peek, a district traffic engineer for the Georgia Department of Transportation, said the money would come from federal safety funds. He said he believes the chances are good that the money will be approved. He did not have an estimated cost of the project.

Even if the money is approved, Peek said it could be three years before construction begins. The work would likely take a year or longer.

Models done on the intersection show that a roundabout would be the best way to improve traffic flow and safety, he said.

The proposal will now go before the full Macon-Bibb County Commission. Because the roads are state highways, it is a state project, but the county is being asked to support it by agreeing to maintain the landscaping and pay for the electricity used on any lighting associated with it.

A key feature of the design is that it would cut off Houston Avenue from the roundabout. Instead, Houston Avenue would connect with Broadway just north of the intersection. The design also allows traffic moving south on Pio Nono to flow directly into Houston Road without going through the roundabout.

It also includes pedestrian crossings at each road, and Peek said flashing beacons can be installed that pedestrians can activate with a button to let cars know they are there.

David Fortson, Macon-Bibb engineer, said the county has installed three roundabouts in recent years and all have been working well.

Wayne Crenshaw: 478-256-9725, @WayneCrenshaw1

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