Tulsa's First Traffic Roundabout Simplifies Downtown Intersection

Tuesday, September 18th 2012, 3:37 pm
By: News On 6

Confusing intersections, with traffic signals that do little more than cause delays provide the perfect place for a roundabout.

Up to now, Tulsa has had traffic circles, but no roundabouts. But that's about to change.

It won't be long until you won't be able to remember how dysfunctional and confounding the intersection of 10th, 11th, and Elgin used to be.

"This is Tulsa's first roundabout," said Doug Duke.

Duke is a traffic engineer with the City of Tulsa. He designed the project.

"Roundabouts have their place in certain instances. This was a good place for one," Duke said.

Generally speaking, roundabouts require entering drivers to yield to all traffic within the roundabout, regardless of lane position. Traffic circles typically allow traffic to enter alongside traffic circulating in an inner lane.

The intersection at Admiral and Mingo is a traffic circle, not a roundabout.

The old intersection that was a merging of 11th Street on the east, 10th Street on the west side of the intersection, and Elgin on the north is about to be a roundabout.

There was a light and folks often went the wrong way. This will solve a traffic headache, but beyond that, it will provide an attractive gateway to downtown.

"This is a significant area of the city: Route 66, the preservation of the old warehouse market, McClure Park—the old ball park was near here," said Bruce Bolzle.

Bolzle is with KMO Development Group. His company is involved with development of this part of downtown and hopes this will spark other projects, as well.

Lighting around it will feature dark-sky compliant lighting, meaning the light focuses down rather than up.

Work is continuing on the roundabout and westbound traffic is getting the first exposure to negotiating it. There's a learning curve for something new like this, but ultimately it should be safer.

"Overall, roundabouts have shown to lessen accident frequency and severity," Duke said.

And this roundabout is small enough that there's little chance we'll get stuck in it, like in the movie National Lampoon's European Vacation.

The city says between now and the end of the year, we should be able to get to and through the roundabout from all directions.

They have yet to decide what will go in the middle.

Check the Daily Detour page for other construction projects happening in Tulsa.