Mill Street/Carroll Street circle construction nears

Construction of a roundabout at one of Salisbury’s busiest intersections is expected to get under way soon, eliminating traffic signals and – city officials hope – improving overall conditions at the end of busy Riverside Drive.

The work should start in September, so motorists can expect to see lane shifts in the area, but there are no plans for a total shutdown, said Amanda Pollack, the city’s Director of Infrastructure and Development.

“We’re making every effort to keep it open,” she said.

In 2017, city officials paid for a study of the intersection where Riverside Drive meets Camden Avenue, Carroll Street and Mill Street that identified multiple problems.

In addition to areas where there are traffic backups, the consultants also identified numerous safety issues.

Among the findings of the study were:

  • There was significant unsafe weaving present on the bridge all day long, likely due to driver confusion about lane use and hesitation.
  • During morning rush hour, traffic on southbound Mill Street backed up all the way to Route 50 in the right lane and vehicles were unable to clear through Main Street at Mill Street, the study found.
  • During the midday peak period, left turns from eastbound Riverside Drive to northbound Mill Street began to back up through the intersection, the consultants said. Vehicles pulled into the middle of the intersection to avoid being delayed at the intersection waiting for the next green light.
  • The northbound left turn pocket on Mill Street Bridge to Main Street spilled out into adjacent lane blocking through traffic, multiple times throughout the day.
  • Vehicles approaching from Riverside Drive turn right on red onto Camden Avenue when southbound Mill Street has the green light, with little regard for approaching traffic.

The study by Wallace Montgomery & Associates presented two traffic circle options: one that is 120 feet in diameter and another that is 150 feet.

The 120-foot roundabout was selected over the larger version because it will have a smaller impact on the neighborhood, Pollack said.

In June, City Council members awarded a $1.48 million contract for the roundabout to George & Lynch, the same firm that is responsible for the ongoing Main Street improvements.

The traffic circle is expected to be completed in six months or less, Pollack said.

Its construction coincides with plans to develop a mixed-use project adjacent to the roundabout at 500 Riverside Drive that will include a waterfront restaurant.

It will be the first inside Salisbury city limits, but Wicomico County residents have become familiar with roundabouts at the Cedar Lane-North Division Street intersection in Fruitland and on Walston Switch Road at the entrance to Wor-Wic Community College

Traffic circles reduce the number of crashes at intersections, as entering vehicles merge with and yield to traffic in the circle, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. They also reduce the types of crashes where people are seriously hurt or killed by as much as 82 percent compared to conventional intersections.

Traffic circles have been used for years in other parts of the U.S. and in European countries.

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