Community House Road roundabout could be two lanes

Pending bridge project causing designers to rethink some parts of plan

by Mike Parks

City staff says the pending North Community House Road extension will likely bring more drivers to the already congested area, meaning more planning might have to go into improvements before crews get to work on traffic relief. One possible option is increasing a planned roundabout at the intersection of Community House and Bryant Farms roads to two lanes instead of just the one-lane traffic circle designers have been planning on installing there. A public forum on the topic may be held in September. Mike Parks/SCW photo

There may be some changes coming for the planned improvements to Community House Road in Ballantyne, as city staff considers what impact extending the road over Interstate 485 will have on traffic in the area and at the proposed Bryant Farms Road roundabout.

City planning and transportation leaders intend to improve Community House between Bryant Farms and Ardrey Kell roads by adding, among other changes, designated left-turn lanes in both directions of Community House onto Ardrey Kell, medians near Ardrey Kell High and Community House Middle schools, bikes lanes, better pedestrian crossing options and additional sidewalks to fill in gaps around the schools and Morrison YMCA.

Those improvements also include a one-lane roundabout at Community House and Bryant Farms to correct problems at the intersection, though some residents feel a traffic circle will only add to problems on the road and cause more backups. Now, as road planners consider the option of even more cars using Community House, there’s talk of possible making the roundabout two lanes when it’s built. When that actually will be is unclear. City engineers did not respond to an interview request for this story.

Charlotte didn’t expect to extend North Community House over I-485 until well into the future. But when the Bissell Companies proposed spending $11 million on road improvements in the area to help its Ballantyne Corporate Park, the bridge was included and now could be done in the next few years.

Speaking at a community meeting in Ballantyne earlier this month, Charlotte City Council representative Warren Cooksey said the city may have to change some plans depending on the estimated traffic increase due to the bridge. That could include widening the roundabout to two lanes, similar to the roundabouts in Davidson.

Cooksey said it’s likely a public forum will be held later this summer to update area residents on any changes to the plan. A date hasn’t been set for that meeting.

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  1. Modern roundabouts are the safest form of intersection in the world. Search http://www.iihs.org for FAQs and safety facts. The safety comes from the ‘slow and go’ operation instead of the ‘stop or go fast’ way a stop light works (or the ‘keep going fast’ large traffic circle fantasy). The smaller size of the modern roundabout is what makes them safer and keeps speeds in the 20 mph range. This makes it much easier to avoid a crash or stop for pedestrians. It also means that if a crash happens the likelihood of injury is very low. Safety is the #1 reason there are over 2,400 modern roundabouts in the US today and many more on the way.
    Slow and go also means less delay than a stop light, especially the other 20 hours a day people aren’t driving to or from work. Average daily delay at a signal is around 12 seconds per car. At a modern roundabout average delay is less than five seconds. Signals take an hour of demand and restrict it to a half hour, at best only half the traffic gets to go at any one time. At a modern roundabout four drivers entering from four directions can all enter at the same time. Don’t try that with a signalized intersection.
    The essential factor, though, is to make sure traffic in the circular roadway can’t go much faster than 20 mph. For the very curious search ‘turbo roundabouts’ – turbo referring to the pattern, not the speed.

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