New roundabout near campus helps traffic

Where there once was a four-way stop on Johns Hill Road, there is now a newly built roundabout that resembles the one near Northern Kentucky University’s main entrance on Louie B. Nunn Drive.
The extensive road work that took place on Johns Hill Road throughout the month of September was part of a project intended to make driving along the south side of campus a little easier.
A roundabout is a circular intersection which branches off into multiple exits to different roads. With this system, road traffic is slowed and continuously moves throughout the circle, with each driver yielding to those who have arrived at the roundabout before them.

Roundabouts are becoming increasingly popular in the U.S., and have completely replaced four-way stops in some parts of the world.
According to Ihab Saad, chair of NKU’s Department of Construction Management, the roundabout is a more efficient way of directing traffic than stop signs or traffic lights.
“The roundabout is similar to a four-way stop in that it works on a first come, first serve basis, except it allows for a faster flow of traffic,” he said. “With a four-way stop, everyone stops, but with a roundabout, it’s only necessary to stop when yielding to someone who’s going through the roundabout before you. That way, the traffic flow just keeps going.”
While Saad said he believes the roundabout was certainly a worthy project, he also thinks the timing could have been better.

“Perhaps it would have been easier if they could have built it during the summer rather than starting it during the semester, when everyone was back at school and a lot of drivers were taking that route throughout the day,” he said.

Larry Blake, assistant vice president of Facilities Management at NKU, said the university was not responsible for the decision to build the new roundabout. Rather, it was a project put in place by the transportation cabinet for District 6 of Kentucky. He said that the success of the first roundabout on campus is a clear indicator that this roundabout too will help to alleviate traffic congestion.
“There used to be a traffic light on Louie B. Nunn Drive, before they put in the first roundabout,” he said. “Traffic then was horrible in that location, worse than it is now. The addition of the roundabout definitely resulted in an improvement.”

For new students and visitors to campus who have little experience using a roundabout, the system might take a little getting used to.
“We are currently looking for ways to provide more guidance for people who might be unfamiliar with the roundabout,” Blake said. “We hope to share an instructional video via social media that will give people a little more information on the topic.”

Blake said that there are plans for a third roundabout to be constructed on campus, where a connector road is being built between Johns Hill Road and 3 Mile Road. However, it will most likely be a few years from now before this project will commence.

Hillary Jamison, an NKU senior, said she approves of the new roundabout and thinks that it will be beneficial to students who take Johns Hill Road when driving back and forth from campus.
“I like the roundabout, and I definitely can see how it makes the traffic flow more smoothly,” she said. “I really don’t think the concept behind it is too hard to understand, either. You just basically have to know how a yield sign works, and you have to know not to stop once you’re in the circle.”