Countywide study identifies most favorable locations for roundabouts

GENESEE COUNTY — More busy intersections in Genesee County could soon be transformed into roundabouts, according to results gathered from a year-long study.

Starting last fall, the Genesee County Metropolitan Planning Commission (GCMPC) and ROWE Professional Services Company began evaluating 3,600 intersections in the county to determine which would be the most feasible for roundabouts. Eventually, the list was narrowed down this September to 14 most-likely candidates, including nine intersections in the Genesee County View coverage area.

Top roundabout-feasible intersections identified in the study include Beecher and Elms roads in Flint Township; Belsay and East Bristol roads in Burton; Davison and North Oak roads in Davison Township; Elms and Miller roads in Swartz Creek; Lapeer and South Genesee roads in Burton; Lennon and Elms roads in Flint Township; Lennon and Morrish roads in Clayton Township; West Court Street and South Dye Road in Flint Township; and Coutant Street and Elms Road in Mt. Morris Township on the border with the City of Flushing.

Altogether, the study included a skim analysis, early preliminary engineering, simulations and collection of drone video to determine which intersections were the most suitable for roundabouts. Data from the study was based on crash history, traffic volumes and current intersection operations over the last five years.

Several public input sessions were also held by GCMPC this year to gauge residential reaction to proposed roundabout sites.

Jack Wheatley, vice president of ROWE, said that each of the 14 intersections would improve in terms of safety ratings and/or traffic volumes if they were converted into roundabouts.

“When you come across a roundabout, you have to slow down to 10 to 20 mph,” he said. “From a safety standpoint, injuries can be reduced by up to 80 percent at intersections that have roundabouts, mostly because of the lower speeds.

“Roundabouts also promote better traffic flow than typical intersections,” Wheatley added. “Back-ups tend to happen, for example, at a four-way stop like Coutant and Elms because it has a high traffic volume. With a roundabout, you’re not having to wait at a stop sign or a signal. The flow of traffic is more fluid.”

Wheatley said that while the initial study appears promising, Genesee County planners will need to coordinate closely with municipalities and property owners to navigate costs and challenges posed by potential roundabouts. For example, several of the 14 “finalist” intersections may require the addition of limited right of ways and slight road reconfigurations to create enough space for roundabouts.

According to the study, probable costs for the roundabout conversions would be in the $1 million to $2 million range for the 14 intersections. Funding sources would include federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) grants, safety grants and regular road improvement funding through the state.

If approved by municipalities, construction on any of the 14 proposed roundabout sites would likely not begin until 2025 or later to coincide with the next CMAQ cycles through the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).

To help residents learn more about the Roundabout Implementation Study, ROWE has created a website with detailed reports about each of the 14 intersections. Residents can read reports on crash data, projected costs, projected roundabout reconfigurations and traffic flows at Aerial videos and model simulations of the intersections are also available to view on the site.