The Opelika City Council unanimously approved a $148,000 contract to begin designs for the construction of a roundabout at the intersection of Sportsplex Parkway and West Point Parkway at its meeting Tuesday.
City Engineer Scott Parker said the contractor, engineering firm Sain Associates, Inc., told the city that a roundabout in the intersection would be safer than traffic lights or other options.
“Sain has said that a roundabout will be safer, more efficient and more effective than any other intersection improvement,” Parker told the council. “Ever since we extended Sportsplex Parkway to this intersection, I don’t know what it is, I think people just started forgetting how to drive.”
The intersection in question has been the site of several car accidents, and Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller said the city had already installed rumble strips on all roadways approaching the intersection as well as lighted stop signs on the Sportsplex Parkway approach and the approach from I-85, but accidents were still occurring.
On Monday, March 26, a multi-vehicle accident at the intersection seriously injured three people, including an 85-year-old man who ended up losing his life after succumbing to injuries sustained from the accident.
“You are all aware of the accident that was at this location a couple of weeks ago. That’s one of many,” Council President Eddie Smith said to the rest of the council. “We had planned to approach ALDOT and ask them to fund this thing, and we have decided that that was a prolonged way of doing things and we needed to move forward for safety purposes.”
Fuller said the city would hopefully be ready to go to bid on the construction of the roundabout in a few weeks after the designs were complete, and added that the roundabout would be larger than others in the city.
“It’ll have to be a huge roundabout because we have a lot of tractor-trailer traffic that uses that exit going to Joann Stores, the Walmart Distribution Center as well as other industries on Northpark Drive,” Fuller said.