OXFORD – Another roundabout should mean safer and easier motoring for Oxford drivers.
Days before classes began this month, crews completed the area’s fourth roundabout at the intersection of Hathorn Road and Intramural Drive, adjacent to the site of the future Insight Park headquarters on the University of Mississippi campus.
Roundabouts have existed in Europe for most of a century, but only in the last few decades has American traffic engineering embraced them. Advocates say that by reducing both the number and duration of stops, the circular intersections make traffic flow more easily.
“In the master plan, we identified major intersections that would be candidates for helping traffic flow,” said Ian Banner, architect and director of facilities at Ole Miss. “We feel that four-way stops are a terribly inefficient way of moving people in terms of people’s time and in terms of energy.”
The new roundabout joins another on campus that joins Gertrude Ford Boulevard with Taylor Road and two in Oxford that replaced lights at the interchange of Lamar Boulevard and Highway 6. The Mississippi Department of Transportation and the city of Oxford plan in the near future to build roundabouts at either end of the Old Taylor Road bridge over Highway 6, and the Ole Miss master plan calls for another at the intersection of Coliseum Drive, Hill Drive and Hathorn Road.
Based on the Old Taylor Road-Ford Boulevard roundabout, Chief Calvin Sellers of the University Police Department says they work as advertised.
“By having the roundabout, people are able not to have to sit and wait for a light to change,” he said. “It slows everybody down, of course, so I think it’s doing what it was designed to do.”
Many drivers are intimidated by roundabouts on their first few encounters with them, but Oxford drivers already have an orientation to them.
“The Square is a historic roundabout,” Banner said. “There’s only a couple of rules to negotiating a roundabout, and they’re perfectly clear: Yield to traffic from your left, and traffic on the roundabout has priority over traffic waiting to enter it.”
Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal