GREENFIELD — Motorists on Greenfield’s northeast side will have to navigate an unusual configuration at the site of the new roundabout under construction at Apple Street and New Road.
The southern half of the roundabout is nearly complete, and motorists going both east and west on New Road soon will be routed through the narrow new stretch of pavement.
It’s something Greenfield drivers have never had to do before, because the five other intersections in the city where roundabouts have been built were closed entirely during the final phases of construction.
But as the construction crew moves to a new phase in the project, it will be a tight squeeze for two lanes of traffic to go through a roadway that’s only one lane wide.
“Drivers will have to use caution and go slow, because it is very tight,” said Marc Hollingsworth, project manager for the roundabout.
Hollingsworth, who works for USI Consultants, oversees the project. It is being constructed by E&B Paving, and the city of Greenfield is paying for the work.
While signs are already up warning motorists of a traffic change, when it will happen remains up in the air. Hollingsworth said the change could have happened as early as Monday, but delays in construction will push that back.
There will be no one directing traffic. A three-way stop, warning signs and a 15 mph speed limit will be used to keep traffic flowing safely.
City officials considered making New Road one-way for the duration of the next phase, but that would have inconvenienced residents in the Hickory Hills addition on the north side of the intersection, whose only way in and out is via New Road.
The upcoming phase of construction will close off the northwest quadrant of the intersection for installation of a concrete drainage box.
The drainage work, coupled with the tricky Hickory Hills access, has prevented the intersection from being completely closed for construction and has made the project much more time-consuming than for most roundabouts.
In fact, construction at Apple Street and New Road began at the same time as the roundabout at Franklin Street and New Road. That roundabout opened to traffic Tuesday.
Karla Vincent, assistant city engineer, said the southern half of the roundabout is about 20 feet wide. It will be difficult for a semitrailer truck to negotiate the intersection alongside another vehicle, she pointed out, but they rarely drive through the residential area.
Vincent said motorists understand that construction zones are tricky, and most pay close attention to safety when negotiating them.
How long motorists will have to endure the odd driving arrangement is uncertain. Current plans call for most of the roundabout to be completed in January, with finishing touches added in the spring. Uncertain weather conditions put the construction schedule in a state of flux.
“(The narrow roadway) is acceptable, but it’s going to be tight,” Hollingsworth said. “Please observe posted speed limits and be aware.”