By Caleb Milligan, Dunaway Associates Discipline Lead
Nowhere is Fort Worth’s increasing use of roundabouts for traffic control and improved safety on display more than the four new roundabouts installed as part of the the Park Vista Boulevard extension.
As Dunaway celebrates the Federal Highway Administration’s first-ever National Roundabout Week, we take a closer look at the Park Vista roundabout project, which won the 2018 American Public Works Association Texas Chapter “Best Transportation Projects, $5 million to $25 million” award.
The Park Vista project began about six years ago as a public-private partnership between the City of Fort Worth and a real estate developer interested in building new commercial property adjacent to Park Vista Boulevard between Ray White Boulevard and Keller Hicks Road.
Dunaway was brought in as an engineering consultant and to help get the project moving. Our first task was to perform an extensive traffic impact analysis of the region to determine how the new commercial development would impact the area, as well as how traffic would be re-routed and distributed once Park Vista Boulevard was constructed.
When we looked at each intersection, with the amount of traffic once the development was complete, our analysis indicated that something needed to be done at each intersection to accommodate the traffic volumes. Although traffic signals along Golden Triangle would have met the minimum City standards, additional traffic lanes would be necessary to facilitate more development in the area.
Roundabouts proved to be the most feasible and viable solution to serve the area’s needs for each key intersection.
The Park Vista roundabout project added four roundabouts on a roughly one-mile extension of Park Vista Boulevard, including a crucial multi-lane roundabout at the intersection of Park Vista and Golden Triangle Boulevard. The project includes a single-lane roundabout at the intersection of Ray White Road that eventually will be replaced with a multi-lane configuration when the southern end of Park Vista Boulevard eventually is upgraded to a divided arterial roadway.
Dunaway also engineered a 200-foot bridge crossing Big Bear Creek, as well as seven 10-foot by 5-foot culverts over a tributary that feeds Big Bear Creek. Lastly, Dunaway had to relocate three major water lines, (36-inch, 20-inch and 16-inch), and install a large underground storm drainage system.
Why Roundabouts? Safety, Savings, and Better Traffic Flows
Over the last few decades, roundabouts have become more common throughout many parts of the U.S. They have routinely been implemented in a variety of states and regions, including Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kansas and the Dakotas.
Over the past five years or so, the State of Texas also has embraced roundabouts as a superior at-grade solution as opposed to signaled and stop-controlled intersections. Put simply, roundabouts are a better use of space and time. They significantly reduce incidences of high-impact traffic collisions, and they also handle higher volumes of traffic more efficiently than stop-controlled or signalized intersections.
The many safety and traffic benefits of roundabouts include:
- 82 percent reduction in severe crashes versus two-way stops
- 78 percent reduction in severe crashes versus signalized intersections
- 35 percent reduction in all types of crashes
- Slower speeds, making them much safer for pedestrians
- Reduced congestion and increased traffic efficiency
Source: Highway Safety Manual
In Fort Worth, roundabouts have been widely recognized as a viable solution for new intersections. The city will continue moving toward increased implementation of roundabouts as it grows because roundabouts are much more cost-effective than signalized intersections. The City of Fort Worth maintains thousands of signalized intersections, and those traffic lights include a significant annual maintenance expense. As the city looks at ways to lower its maintenance and operations costs for traffic management, roundabouts provide the perfect solution – they have much lower maintenance costs, and there aren’t any additional equipment or signal timing expenses.
This was a great way a private entity could come in and work with the City of Fort Worth to help build a missing link on their master thoroughfare plan. It was a positive outcome for both parties. This project was a great opportunity to showcase the many positive benefits of traffic roundabouts versus other means of traffic control.
To learn more, watch our video on the Park Vista project here.