By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Roundabout cheaper than turn lanes
Turner Lake roundabout now open
Placeholder Image

The roundabout at the intersection of Turner Lake Road and Clark Street opened Tuesday morning, completing a project first proposed nearly 13 years ago.

As of 3:40 p.m. Tuesday, no accidents had been reported at the roundabout and traffic appeared to be flowing smoothly, though some cars were unnecessarily stopping at the yield signs and most drivers did not use their right turn signal when they were exiting. Covington Transportation Manager Billy Skinner surveyed traffic around 3 p.m. and said drivers were handling the roundabout well and school buses had not problem traversing it.

Many residents wondered why city and state officials did not simply add turn lanes to the intersection, which has seen 184 reported accidents since 1992 according to Covington police. Skinner said Tuesday that the installation of 300-foot long turn lanes and remodeling of the intersection would have cost about $1.5 million, according to a 2004 study by engineering firm URS.

The final budget of the roundabout came in at $775,622, including the cost to install an underground pedestrian tunnel leading to Turner Lake Park. Federal stimulus money covered the entire project. According to a Jan. 5, 1999, article in The Covington News, the original cost for a roundabout and pedestrian tunnel was projected to be $300,000.

Both the county and Clark's Grove LLC contributed right-of-way property for the roundabout project.

Previous daily traffic count numbers provided by the city and published by The News were incorrect. According to a traffic study by URS, prior to construction in 2010, Turner Lake Road had a daily traffic count of around 16,600, while Clark Street had a daily count of 4,500.

A single-lane roundabout is designed to handle a daily traffic count of 25,000 cars or less. URS traffic projections for 2030 called for Turner Lake's car count to increase to 19,600 and Clark Street's to go to 5,300, keeping the intersection under the single-lane roundabout threshold.

The Georgia Department of Transportation seeks to have any new intersection improvements last for at least 20 years.

Robert Moon, a state engineer, said three more roundabouts are planned for Newton County at the intersections of state highways 162 and 212, 11 and 142 and 11 and U.S. Highway 278. Terry Savage, city transportation official, said roundabouts would be a good option because accidents at those intersections are particularly violent.

Access to Old Clark Street from Turner Lake Road was closed Tuesday after the roundabout opened. Through traffic will not be allowed, the portion of Old Clark Street to Clark Street will still be open to allow access to the single home on that road. The rest of Old Clark Street will be demolished, Skinner said.

Skinner had two tips for drivers: If an accident does occur in the roundabout, drivers should attempt to leave the roundabout before stopping along the side of the road. If an emergency vehicle is approaching the roundabout, cars in the roundabout should leave the roundabout before pulling off to the side of the road.

The next step in that area will be to extend the sidewalk from the roundabout to connect to existing sidewalk along Clark Street.