Talks underway for a possible roundabout at North Jefferson Street and Log Cabin Road

May 4—Roundabouts are becoming one of the newest concepts aimed at improving traffic flow and reducing vehicle crashes across Georgia.

There is only one existing roundabout in Baldwin County located at the intersection of Kings and Stembridge roads.

But talks are underway between Milledgeville City Council and the Baldwin County Board of Commissioners that could soon lead to another roundabout at the intersection of North Jefferson Street and Log Cabin Road.

A joint meeting between the local governing bodies was held Tuesday night at City Hall to discuss it.

Milledgeville Mayor Pro Tem Denese Shinholster presided over the meeting. Mayor Mary Parham Copelan, who remains under a doctor's care, joined by phone, as did Baldwin County Commission vice chairman Kendrick Butts.

All six members of city council attended the meeting and four of the five commissioners attended in person.

Shinholster then turned the meeting over to City Manager Hank Griffeth, who indicated that city officials were asked by Baldwin County Manager Carlos Tobar and Commission chairman Johnny Westmoreland about having a joint work session to begin an initial discussion about the possibility of a roundabout at the intersection of North Jefferson, Sinclair Dam Road and Log Cabin.

"They are bringing that idea to us to begin that conversation and that discussion," Griffeth said.

Tobar then explained.

"Our county engineer Brian Wood put together a concept plan for a single-lane roundabout at the corner of North Jefferson and Log Cabin," Tobar said. "I specifically requested a single-lane roundabout because I don't think the community would support a double-lane roundabout."

The county manager said Wood discovered that this proposed concept would not require rights-of-way acquisition or utility relocation.

Tobar said some survey work would be needed to make certain underground utilities such as city water and sewer lines aren't affected.

"The thought is that if the city and county want to pursue this, we will produce a preliminary engineering report," Tobar said. "The cost for something like that is about $5,000. We would then get an idea of what the cost estimate would be and then we (the county) would pursue a federal grant on behalf of both parties, and obviously there would be an IGA (Intergovernmental Agreement) required, and see if we can get a federal grant to pay 80 percent of the costs of this roundabout."

Tobar said in his conversations with the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), the rule of thumb has been about $1 million per roundabout. He said 80% of that cost would be $100,000 and it would be covered by a federal grant and then the match would be $200,000, which in the case of local government officials would be split 50-50.

If it works out, it would mean an equal $100,000 share paid by the city and county, the government official said.

Tobar said he and commissioners wanted to present the concept to city officials, and noted that they don't presently have cost estimates for them.

"That would be the next step is to get the cost estimates to you," Tobar told city officials. "We just really wanted to see what your thoughts are about a joint project where we would share in the local match."

City Alderman Steve Chamber said he favored taking the next step.

"I would like to suggest that since we already have an engineering firm working on Dunlap and Jefferson and doing a traffic study on Jefferson, and all this information is being put together that we look at the possibility of using this same firm," Chambers said. "We won't have to do a lot of duplication, I would think."

Chambers said he believes that would save money.

Griffeth said it would merely expand the scope of work that the city engineering firm is undertaking on North Jefferson Street and Dunlap Road.

"We could see what the additional cost was and then put the cost between the two," Griffeth said.

Tobar said the goal is to improve traffic flow.

In addition, it's been proven that roundabouts improve the severity of traffic crashes, he said, although he added that he did not have current crash data for the intersection.

"We will have it," Tobar said. "If you're interested in this concept, we will start gathering it."

Chambers said he didn't anticipate getting the data being a big issue.

"I've lived a mile down the road for 33 years, so I know that goes on," Chambers said. "Up in that area, everybody is very familiar with the four-way stop. The only thing that I think you'll ever have is somebody maybe coming from behind and popping somebody when they yield or don't realize they've got to stop. This certainly would take that out of the picture."

He said his daughter lives in Jacksonville, Florida, and that motorists can't go anywhere without going through a roundabout, even double-lane roundabouts.

"That one was a little hairy," Chambers said. "You've got to decide which lane to stay in."

Westmoreland said he believes that the North Jefferson Street and Log Cabin Road area is being used as a cut-through.

"That's the problem right now," Westmoreland said. "The traffic is backing up because of that cut-through."