CLARKSVILLE, TN (CLARKSVILLE NOW) – Construction will begin on a roundabout at Whitfield / Needmore Road in a few weeks and local residents seem divided.
City spokesman Henry Kilpatrick said the roundabout is part of a larger $ 16 million project to improve and expand the streets of Whitfield and Needmore. It is included in Tier 1 of the 2020+ transportation plan.
Construction is expected to start in October. Rights of way design and acquisition are complete, and the city is working on utility relocation.
Why a roundabout?
Clarksville Street Department considered many options for the intersection before deciding on a roundabout as opposed to other solutions like a traffic light.
We’re not the only city in Tennessee to have roundabouts in recent years. Jackson completed a roundabout at the intersection of downtown North Highland and East Deaderick Streets in November 2018.
Despite initial opposition from the community, Jackson’s roundabout was a success, Jackson’s director of planning Stan Pilant told Clarksville Now.
“(The previous intersection) had its problems during rush hour. It was a cross that we needed to improve, ”said Pilant. “The roundabout has proven itself to slow down the traffic and it does what you want the traffic to do: the closer you get to the free flow, the better.”
Pilant said that roundabouts have a learning curve when a community is not used to it.
“Yes, there is a learning curve. We had brochures that showed how things worked and we gave information, but there are still people who don’t understand that you give in to someone on the roundabout, ”said Pilant. “I don’t know we’ve seen much of it; but yes, a roundabout is more complicated than straight lines. ”
Local residents agree that improvements are needed at the intersection, infamous for long lines and frequent accidents.
“I’m happy about (the roundabout) because of the traffic. I think it will help. There is a lot of traffic on this street and I think that will get things moving faster, ”said local resident Jackiel Thompson.
Some are not happy with the gyro solution.
“I think it’s a really terrible idea. Most people don’t know how to use a roundabout properly, and I think it’s going to make things ten times worse, ”said resident Madison McDuffy. “Something has to be done. I just don’t think a roundabout is the way to go. “
Thompson, along with some of his neighbors, will lose property to the project, but told Clarksville Now he was ready to make the sacrifice.
“I’m ready to do it if it’ll speed up this traffic.”
Roundabout planned in Tylertown / Oakland
The Whitfield / Needmore roundabout isn’t the only one on the map. Another is part of an improvement project for the intersection of Tylertown and Oakland Road (also included in Tier 1 of the traffic plan).
Kilpatrick told Clarksville Now that the Tylertown / Oakland roundabout is still in the often lengthy process of obtaining right of way. The project could take another two to three years to complete.