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The accompanying graphic shows an example of how a roundabout works. (Stock photo)
A $2 million grant from the Alabama Department of Transportation will lead to the construction soon of what is believed to be the first roundabout in Coffee County, at the current intersection of Highway 27 North and Shell Field Road. Funding is made available through the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program-II (ATRIP-II), a program created under the Rebuild Alabama Act. The Rebuild Alabama Act requires ATRIP-II to be an annual program setting aside a minimum of $30 million off the top of ALDOT’s share of new gas tax revenue for projects of local interest on the state highway system, according to an announcement by Gov. Kay Ivey. The City was awarded the maximum amount that could be granted to a single project under the ATRIP-II program, $2 million.
Ivey announced Jan. 12 that more than $45 million in funding is being awarded to cities and counties for various road and bridge projects.
“In Alabama, across our country and around the globe, we are all still working to get COVID-19 behind us, but here at home, we have not forgotten other priorities, Gov. Ivey said “Even as we are overcoming new challenges with the virus, we remain ever committed to making needed improvements to our infrastructure. I am proud that Rebuild Alabama continues making these investments possible in areas all across our state. Alabama continues to show progress and tangible results for the people of our state.”
A grant asking for the $2 million was submitted by CDG Engineers & Associates on behalf of Mayor Cooper and the Enterprise City Council. The application was approved by the council in September and submitted in October to the Alabama Department of Transportation. “I am pleased that the City was awarded this grant through the second phase of the ATRIP program,” Cooper said. “Safety at the Shell Field/Hwy. 27 North
intersection has been a concern for us for some time and this improvement is believed to be a good solution for reducing the potential for life-threatening accidents there.” Cooper said with the future potential for continued population growth in that area of town, city leaders believe a roundabout will be convenient and beneficial in handling increased traffic flow. T.J. Kelley, CDG representative, said a rough estimate for the total project is $3 million to $4 million, but final costs have not yet been determined since the design phase has not begun.
The grant calls for the city to be responsible for just over $1 million, but Kelley said CDG has been working with ALDOT and the Federal Highway Administration on additional FHWA. Kelley said he is very optimistic that the city will receive that funding to offset some or all of the city’s share of the project costs. Kelley, who is not aware of any other roundabouts in Coffee County, said he hopes CDG and the City can begin work on the design phase immediately so that construction may be able to begin in the first part of 2022. He said studies indicated a roundabout would be a good solution to problems at the Highway27/Shell Field Road intersection.
Traffic data showed a high number of traffic accidents at the intersection in recent years Currently, the intersection is a thoroughfare on Highway 27 with stop signs on Shell Field Road. Studies show roundabouts are safer and improve traffic flow, Kelley said. He believes that is an important factor in the intersection improvement because traffic is increasing in that northeast area of the city because new sub-divisions are springing up and because of easy access to Fort Rucker.
Roundabouts force vehicles to go in the right direction, Kelley said. The goal of this roundabout, like others is to improve safety, slow down traffic and channel vehicles to specific exits in a smoother fashion, he said.