Western Kentucky University students, faculty and area residents have a smoother
commute with the addition of a modern roundabout near the southern campus gateway.
An existing four-way signalized intersection located at U.S. 31W (Nashville Road)
and U.S. 231X (University Boulevard) was causing significant traffic congestion
and safety concerns. Between 2001 and 2011 there were over 500 accidents at this
busy intersection. Burgess & Niple (B&N) designed a new two-lane roundabout to replace
the signalized intersection that has improved traffic flow, safety and mobility
for area motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.
Improved Traffic Flow and Safety
The continuous movement of traffic through the modern roundabout at this intersection
helps reduce congestion and delays. The new roundabout improved safety by reducing
the number of potential conflict points. Typically, modern roundabouts reduce vehicular
conflict points from 32 at a standard intersection to eight. Roundabouts reduce
pedestrian conflict points from 24 at a standard intersection to eight. In addition,
roundabout geometrics encourage speed reduction, which in turn reduces crash severity.
Just north of the intersection, left-turning movements onto Chestnut Street, and
other side streets, significantly contributed to the back-ups and delays. To address
this, a raised median, north of the roundabout, was extended to eliminate left-hand
turns onto Chestnut from US 31W. All left-turn traffic from Chestnut is now directed
through the roundabout. These changes also have improved safety and overall traffic
Reduced Construction Costs
To help reduce construction costs, the existing U.S. 31W two-lane road with a center
turn lane was restriped to become two southbound lanes and one northbound lane south
of Oaklawn Way. Using the center turn lane as an additional lane eliminated the
need to widen the existing road. In addition to costing more to construct, widening
the road would have required the purchase of additional right of way and the relocation
of existing utilities. This roundabout also costs less to operate than the original
signalized intersection because it does not require electricity.
Minimal Impact on Local Traffic
The project schedule was expedited so that construction could take place over Western
Kentucky University’s summer break to reduce the impact on local traffic. In addition,
a phased construction approach allowed traffic to keep moving through the intersection.
First, motorists used the existing road while the majority of the roundabout was
built next to it. Then traffic was shifted to the newly constructed pavement while
the remaining portion was built. This approach allowed the intersection to remain
open for all but eight days during construction.
Honors and Awards
The Bowling Green Roundabout project received a 2015 Transportation Improvement
Award from the American Society of Highway Engineers (ASHE) Derby City
Section in the “$5 Million and Under” category.