Upper Arlington News

Waltham Road roundabout nears completion


A project to construct the city's first modern roundabout at the intersection of Waltham and North Star roads should be completed this month, according to Upper Arlington officials.

Last fall, crews began work on the roundabout at the intersection of Waltham and North Star roads, where Waltham also connects to Kinnear Road, as part of a $2.36-million project to reconstruct Waltham from Northwest Boulevard to North Star.

That project was shut down over the winter and resumed this spring.

According to the Upper Arlington Engineering Division, the roundabout portion of the project is expected to conclude this month.

Officials said it will yield better and safer traffic flow at the Waltham-North Star intersection.

"Right now, we're looking at an opening date of June 20 for the roundabout, but that may be pushed back into the following week due to rain we've been having," said Jackie Thiel, Upper Arlington's interim city engineer. "The roundabout is expected to improve traffic flow and also increase safety as roundabouts eliminate perpendicular and T-bone crashes.

"When vehicles enter a roundabout, they naturally have to slow down to yield to oncoming vehicles, and they also have to slow to maneuver the roundabout, which increases safety."

According to the engineering division, the Waltham-North Star roundabout differs from the existing "traffic circle" in front of the Upper Arlington Public Library's Miller Park branch, where Tremont Road and Arlington Avenue intersect.

That's because the Waltham roundabout will be designed to control entrance, exit and circulation speeds based on angles.

It also will provide a pedestrian refuge island at all four "legs," so walkers can only cross one lane of traffic at a time.

"It also allows for even a U-turn movement within the regular traffic flow that typically can't be made at an intersection," Thiel said. "You can go all the way around the roundabout and go back the same way you were coming.

"The roundabout is expected to improve traffic flow and also eliminate any stops that people have needed to make while waiting for the (traffic) light to change. They can just continuously flow now."

The roundabout's total cost is approximately $1.2 million. However, the city has received an $824,000 grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC) to help fund the project.

Upper Arlington also received a $276,000 OPWC loan for the work, and has 24 years to pay it back.

Former City Engineer Dave Parkinson said last year the roundabout would reduce vehicle stacking and calm traffic, which is expected to increase as Ohio State University begins to develop land along Kinnear Road.

The project recently received the 2013 Concrete Project of the Year award for Central/Southeast Ohio from the Ohio Concrete Association.

Thiel said the city currently has no plans for additional roundabouts, but did note a video tutorial instructing motorists on how to maneuver the traffic-calming feature can be found on the city's website at uaoh.net.