Serving El Reno for years to come: Freese and Nichols leads new roundabout project
Providing safe and effective solutions for optimal public use are an integral part of cities’ vital infrastructure. Freese and Nichols will break ground on a new roundabout this spring for the City of El Reno at the town’s main intersection of Route 66 and Highway 81. The firm won the project and officially started a related traffic study in 2016.
“The US 81 / Rt 66 intersection has had operational and safety issues for a very long time. The new roundabout will not only improve intersection functionality, but it will also be an iconic entrance into El Reno and an iconic feature along Rt 66. We are excited about this ODOT project, and thankful for our partnership with ODOT,” said City Manager Matt Sandidge.
Freese and Nichols Central Plains - Transportation Principal/Vice President Brandon Huxford agrees.
“We considered many different configurations to determine the appropriate solution. The new roundabout is going to move a considerable amount of traffic and it’s going to do so very efficiently. It will also set the City and ODOT [Oklahoma Department of Transportation] up for success,” said Huxford. “What the roundabout adds to the City of El Reno is an attention-drawing aspect that will serve as an entry type monument,” said Huxford. “It will serve patrons of this area for years to come.”
Although less common in Oklahoma than in other states, Huxford explained their growing popularity throughout the country over the past 15 years can be attributed to three key features: extreme focus on constant movement, low speeds and fewer conflict points.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ranks roundabouts as significantly safer than traditional multidirectional intersections for drivers and pedestrians, with fewer and less severe accidents.
“There has been a heavy push for roundabouts and I have designed many. On the ODOT front, they are of course interested in the safe and effective movement of people. Traffic signals require maintenance and are designed according to current traffic volumes at the time of planning but then, their effectiveness is incumbent on continual updates,” Huxford explained. “If I could communicate one message about the roundabout, it is how much time and attention to detail went into not this design but also this evaluation, the right configuration for this process. Every feasible option and alternative was evaluated.”
The roundabout also took into account the need to accommodate vehicles of all sizes, including semi-trucks and oversized equipment. A popular route for commuters, the City reports it will reduce wait times and increase fuel efficiency, in addition to adding to property values, which in turn, attracts businesses that help local economies thrive.