CEDAR CITY — A new roundabout is coming to Cedar City.
On Nov. 8, the Utah Department of Transportation and Southern Utah University sought the city’s support in building the roundabout at Center Street and 1150 West near the university’s Eccles Coliseum.
UDOT’s Region 4 Traffic Operations Engineer Jared Beard said that the department has observed traffic congestion at the four-way stop that’s currently at the intersection, particularly in the morning as SUU students travel to class.
After conducting a study to weigh various options, including a traffic signal, Beard said that the roundabout ultimately became the department’s preferred option.
“Why a roundabout versus a signal? I mean, this is a question I get asked very frequently when we talk signals, and it really is about safety,” he said, later adding, “We get the feeling that a signal makes us safer, but people still run red lights. People still do silly things at signals and we still have crashes.”
While roundabouts may feel unfamiliar to many local drivers, they’ve been used in Utah for about 30 years, according to a video Beard played called “UDOT Roundabouts.”
“There’s hundreds of these strange not-so-strange intersections all over the state,” the narrator states. “And they can go on a variety of roads — one-lane (or) two-lane roads from 25-65 miles per hour. And they worked surprisingly well, especially where safety is concerned.”
In a four-way intersection, there are 32 conflict points, many of which are in the center, increasing the risk of T-bone and head-on collisions, the video states. Roundabouts reduce these conflicts from 32 to eight by “going around them,” and crashes are less likely to be severe.
“In fact, a study of non-roundabouts that were later converted to roundabouts found that fatal and serious crashes were reduced by as much as 88%,” the narrator explained.
Locally, Beard said the roundabout at Minersville Highway (state Route 130) and Midvalley Road has been “an excellent solution to the issues that we were seeing up there.” Since its construction, the number of crashes has been reduced.
City staff agreed to write a letter of support for the project, and Cedar City Mayor Garth Green and Councilmembers Tyler Melling and R. Scott Phillips spoke in favor of the work.
“I think they’re very safe,” Phillips said. “I’ve experienced them quite a bit. I know there’s fear in people because they’re not used to them, but I’m fully supportive of this idea, and I appreciate your efforts in getting funding for it and also working so the neighbors don’t have to be displaced.”
Ben Johnson, SUU assistant vice president of facilities management, said the university is excited about the project and the prospect of designing a “gateway” to SUU to adorn the roundabout’s center.
UDOT will take approximately a year to design the project, with construction expected to begin in 2025 and potentially be completed in 2026, Kevin Kitchen, a spokesman for UDOT, told Cedar City News.
Kitchen said the work will cost an estimated $3.25 million, but that number could change due to inflation and other factors. The project will be funded by the Federal Highway Administration’s Highway Safety Improvement Program.
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