The City of Fredericton is hiring a team of experts to help design a two-lane roundabout in the capital city that will cut across a divided highway and remove some stress off of a busy intersection.
The proposed $2-million roundabout may hinge on whether the engineering experts can answer several traffic safety questions for the city.
The project would connect Smythe Street and Bishop Drive, which are two busy roads, and it would cut across all four lanes of Highway 8.
Traffic engineers say the proposed roundabout will take a significant amount of traffic off of the busy intersection at Regent and Prospect streets.
Darren Charters, a traffic engineer with the City of Fredericton, said this project is unique to North America, so the city is bringing in a team of engineering experts to help design the roundabout.
"I'm not a road safety expert or a roundabout expert, for that matter," Charters said.
"So we've brought in those experts, and we're very happy to have them we do."
The city has set aside $500,000 to start the project this year.
The engineers are currently studying traffic models to see how a roundabout would change traffic flows.
There are other issues that would need to be addressed in order for the roundabout to become a reality.
The Department of Transportation needs to give its approval because the roundabout includes changes to Highway 8.
If the provincial government does give its approval by April, construction on the roundabout could start in the summer.
Charters said the engineers need to figure out how to slow down highway traffic, make sure the circle is well-lit and find a place for a pedestrian crossing.
He said the roundabout will not go ahead if experts can't be convinced it's safe.
"We have a lot of safety issues that we need to address," Charters said.
"The public have brought up a lot, the province has brought up a lot of issues. We want all those addressed. If they can't be addressed, the project stops."
Councillor concerned about safety
The roundabout proposal was brought up at the city’s transportation committee meeting on Thursday.
Most city councillors at the meeting praised plans for a roundabout as a way to ease the traffic stress in the area.
But Coun. Marilyn Kerton said she’s not convinced the roundabout will be safe, if it is installed.
"If people don't have the knowledge about how to use it properly, there's going to be increased accidents," Kerton said.
"I do know that we're talking about proper signage and having it well-lit and that. But however, given our weather conditions, people may miss the signs, and the lighting and that may not be as helpful as we'd like."
In January, Charters said an education campaign would be launched to help the public understand how to use the roundabout.
Fredericton has already installed two roundabouts in other parts of the city.