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At Gateway Boulevard and Commerce Lakes Drive, Lee County commissioner Cecil Pendergrass led a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday at the newest one, which cost $2.8 million.
Another one should break ground in early 2022 about a half-mile north, at Gateway Boulevard and Griffin Drive.
“This came together three years ago,” Pendegrass said. “We noticed a lot of accidents in this area. We had to do something.”
Over a three-year span, that intersection, which had been built about 1990 with a two-way stop sign for east-west traffic and continuous flow for north-south traffic, saw 68 accidents with 19 injuries.
Every intersection gets due diligence, evaluating and reevaluating by the county department of transportation, said director Randy Cerchie. He helps determine if an intersection will have a two- or four-way stop sign, a traffic signal or a roundabout.
In this case, the county said having a roundabout saved about 50 trees from being removed, as traffic signals require about 800 feet of removal for visibility purposes.
“We have some folks who fuss when they first go up,” Cerchie said of the roundabouts, of which there are now six in unincorporated Lee County. “Six months later, they grow to love them.”
This location is surrounded by businesses like Alta and Gartner. There are four nearby schools and 17 nearby gated communities of residents, who frequent the road during the 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. rush hours.
Wright Construction completed the project 109 days ahead of schedule.
The roundabout will improve the flow of traffic and safety, Cerchie said. Gene Rogers, the division chief for South Trail Fire Rescue, has noticed.
“I live in Gateway and travel through that every day,” Rogers said. “I’m still wrapping my head around how they kept the intersection open the entire time during construction. This will help our response times drastically improve.”