published Sunday, February 10th, 2013

Whatever happened to ... Chickamauga still plans roundabout

  • photo
    John Culpepper, Chickamauga Georgia's city manager
    Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Question: Whatever happened to the Chickamauga, Ga., traffic roundabout at Osburn School and Five Points roads that City Council discussed a year ago?

Answer: "It's not dead," City Manager John Culpepper said Friday. "It just sort of fell off the table, and I've got to resurrect the thing."

Leon "Al" Pierce, a civil engineer who's done two decades' worth of contract work for Chickamauga, said at last year's council meeting that roundabouts have a number of advantages over traffic lights. They result in fewer accidents, reduce rush-hour backups and require less maintenance.

Still, the project is on hold, he said. The roundabout is expected to cost $650,000. About $550,000 in federal funding has been earmarked for it, Culpepper said. The remaining $100,000 he hopes will come from state funds. Culpepper plans to see if state Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, can bring home the money.

Culpepper hopes construction can start in six to nine months.

Installing a roundabout could help improve air quality in Walker County, Culpepper said, because it will reduce the number of cars idling at the intersection.

The intersection is the region's busiest for trains and traffic, with an average of 63,300 cars and trucks crossing the railroad tracks there daily, Pierce told City Council last year.

Chickamauga's roundabout would be the first one constructed in Walker County, Ga., both men said.

Some residents asked questions about the proposed roundabout, but there wasn't much opposition.

Roundabouts aren't much different than a traditional Southern town square, Culpepper said.

"If you go to Trenton and go around the square, what are you doing?" he asked. "You're doing a roundabout."

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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