Fredericton highway roundabout construction set to begin in June
Long-awaited project expected to be completed by mid-September
Fredericton motorists are bracing for one of the biggest road construction projects the city has seen in years, the Highway 8 roundabout.
The project has been in the works for more than three years, but the tender has now been awarded to KDB Engineers/Contractors Inc. and construction is scheduled to begin next month.
It is expected to be completed and open by mid-September.
The city has appointed two staff members to oversee the work, including transit manager Darren Charters, who conceived of the idea when he was Fredericton's traffic engineer.
The city also plans to launch an education campaign in August, teaching drivers how to negotiate the roundabout safely from the four-lane highway. It has already prepared an animated simulation to help prepare drivers.
Roundabouts are "much safer than the traditional T-bone designed intersection," said Charters.
The city originally wanted to put an overpass across Highway 8 to connect Smythe Street and Bishop Drive to relieve some of the rush-hour pressure on Regent Street. But the municipal and provincial governments did not have the money to cover the multi-million-dollar idea.
A roundabout was suggested as a cheaper alternative and one that Charters contends is the safest way to join two streets across another street.
The next step was to get approval from provincial engineers and advice from planners across the country with expertise in roundabouts.
There was also some delay while council sold the idea to voters.
One of the selling points of the project is the fact it will ease a lot of north-south traffic with two main arteries — Smythe and Regent streets.
Preparations for the roundabout began last summer, including road widening and curbing. Approaches on Smythe Street and leading from Bishop Drive were also prepared.
The city will look after winter maintenance leading north and south to and from roundabout, while the provincial government will take care of the east-west portions.