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Roundabout on West Gentilly makes intersection safer
Vehicles navigate the new traffic circle on Gentilly Drive during the lunch hour Wednesday. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff
    When Statesboro city engineers began work on adding a center lane on West Gentilly leading to its intersection of Highway 67, they realized it would be a good time to look at the intersection of West Gentilly, O'Neal Drive and Bland Avenue.
    "The configuration of that intersection was very strange," said Maz Elhaj, city engineer for Statesboro. "Motorists there didn't know what they were supposed to do."
    The roads intersected each other at odd angles and drivers would regularly ignore stop or yield signs or they weren't sure which sign was for which road.
    To alleviate the problem, Elhaj thought about installing a roundabout at the intersection, something he's always thought about doing inside the city limits.
    He drew a rough sketch of his idea and then gave it to GIS Technician David Hendrix and assistant city engineer Brad Deal to oversee the project, which was completed less than three weeks ago.
    Hendrix said a roundabout is preferable to a four-way stop because it reduces the number of "conflict points," or areas where vehicles could collide.
    Deal said roundabouts are also safer because of the lower speed vehicles are traveling around the circle. If they do have a crash, it won't be as severe.
    "In a traditional intersection, if a driver runs a stop sign, it could be a serious wreck," Deal said.
    Traffic counts for that intersection had about 7,000 cars a day driving in that area. Elhaj said the roundabout was designed to handle up to 15,000 vehicles daily.
    So far, Elhaj hasn't heard any complaints about the roundabout and there are plans to install another one at the intersection of Old Register Road and Forrest Drive.
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