Roundabouts Improve Traffic Flow and Safety on 159th Street

Posted on Wednesday, June 7th, 2017 by
In Traffic, Transportation Engineering, tagged in
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Prior to our 159th Street improvements between Metcalf and Nall, Blue Valley High School had been experiencing traffic congestion on 159th Street for an extended period of time. Safely making left-hand turns out of the school’s entrances during peak hours was becoming increasingly difficult. Cars were often stopped for long periods of time, forcing other vehicles to back up into the parking lot. Those students who walked to school also encountered challenges finding a safe place to cross.

Although the school was already experiencing issues, the city knew this corridor would see even more traffic with the completion of the 159th Street and US 69 Highway interchange. Planned development in this area would only increase these numbers further.

As we started our design, we began discussing solutions with the school that would be agreeable to all. Several options were considered, including a stop-sign control similar to what was already in place, as well as installing traffic signals. The City of Overland Park typically does not signalize entrances to schools, because while the signals function well during peak hours, they can unnecessarily slow traffic at other times of the day.

Another option we proposed included the addition of multi-lane roundabouts at both the western and eastern entrances of the school. Roundabouts keep traffic moving in all directions and bring increased safety by reducing the potential for larger scale accidents. They also provide safer crossing for pedestrians. In the end, this proved to be the option everyone agreed would work best. As of May 15th, all lanes of traffic are now open. Both the road and roundabouts are operating smoothly.

Roundabout Blue Valley High School

The roundabouts and road improvements have reduced congestion in this area. In addition to the improvements along 159th Street, the school district changed traffic patterns for student drop-off and pick-up. This also helped mitigate congestion. As a result, during the school peak hours students have reduced their delay entering and exiting the school by more than 10 minutes.

“Affinis has been a great partner working to understand our unique needs. It has been a pleasure working with their engineers. At Blue Valley High School, along 159th Street, their roundabouts improved traffic flow at two entrances and enhanced safety along 159th Street, as well as internally to our parking lot. They exceeded our expectations on this project,” said Dave Hill, Executive Director of Facilities and Operations, Blue Valley Schools.

159th Street Roundabout

Roundabouts are becoming more common, but multi-lane versions are not quite as prevalent. Driver education can help improve their effectiveness. There are programs and charts available that illustrate how traffic moves through a roundabout, as well as how many vehicles can pass through within a given period. Blue Valley High School shared this video with parents and students. Student drivers had this to say about the roundabout.

“With so many people exiting the school, roundabouts created a nice flow for the merging lanes,” Brett Florack, Blue Valley High School, 2018.

Find more details on the project here.

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