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Commissioners make play for third Fairhope roundabout

(IMAGE: WPMI) Commissioners make play for third Fairhope roundabout

Is building more roundabouts the safest and the most cost-effective way to move traffic?

At a cost of $2 million each, Baldwin County is again eyeing the construction of another roundabout at County Roads 44 and 13 near Fairhope High School. It could be the fifth roundabout on the Eastern Shore.

Safety is a big plus and county officials are saying it’s all about keeping up with growth with more and more cars on the road every day. Highway officials say the busiest roundabout at 64 and 13, over the past three years since it was built, the accident rate dropped by much as 70%.

"A four-way stop would be just as good. That’s a lot of money to spend. Two million dollars is a lot of money for what a four-way stop or red light could do," said motorist Riley Gordon.

"Two million dollars is steep one, I can tell you that. I mean, can you put a price on safety?" said motorist Matt Jackson.

It may sound steep but the engineering and the financing makes sense to County Highway Director Joey Nunnly. "We're trying to keep ahead of the growth," said Nunnly.

Nunnly says roundabouts are engineered to reduce what are known as "conflict points," sometimes by 70%.

"A conflict point is basically where you have one car crossing the line of another car. Someone is taking a left at a particular intersection, its possible there's going to be a conflict occur with the oncoming vehicle," said Nunnly.

Today the county applied for federal grant money to pay for 90% of the $2 million dollar price tag for a new roundabout at county roads 44 and 13.

"A signal is going to be anywhere from 300 to $350,000 for a nice mast arm type signal, whereas the matching funds for this grant is going to be about $200,000."

A good use of tax payer money, the county says. When it comes to accident statistics there have been 17 accidents at the intersections of County roads 44 and 13 in the past five years- one of those fatal.

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