Salem roundabout construction nearly done

Salem - A state engineer said Thursday that construction on the town's new roundabout at Salem Four Corners is on track to be completed by the end of the month.

Patrick Warzecha, a project engineer with the state, said contractors will spend the coming weeks finishing sidewalks in the area. Other work will include adding pavement markings and installing signs.

Work on the approximate $3.5 million roundabout has been ongoing since the summer. The new circular traffic pattern is designed to slow traffic at one of the region's busiest intersections. Several serious accidents and at least one fatality have occurred in recent years at the Four Corners.

First Selectman Kevin Lyden said he still has concerns that motorists are approaching the new roundabout at high speeds. But he said complaints about the roundabout have started to subside as people have grown more accustomed to the new traffic flow.

"There are still some quirks that we have to work out," Lyden said. "It's becoming more accepted. People are getting used to it more."

The federally funded roundabout spent years in the planning stages. It was proposed as a way to promote safety for people traveling on Routes 85 and 82. It was also designed to reduce speeds for those traveling to Route 11 in their commutes between New London and Hartford. Route 11 ends abruptly in town and funnels motorists to the Four Corners.

Lyden said many townspeople had no prior experience driving in a roundabout, which led to an initial learning curve.

He cited an example of one senior citizen who told him she avoided driving through the Four Corners after the traffic light was removed there in August. She later reported to Lyden that she had driven through the new roundabout several times without issue.

People have also been pleased with how the area looks, Lyden said. The old white building on the southwest corner of the intersection was demolished, and a 35-foot flagpole is scheduled to be installed at the center of the roundabout.

Lights will be installed to illuminate the flagpole at night. Plants and flowers will be added in the spring to help the area aesthetically.

The roundabout includes a truck apron, which is designed for trucks that need to make wide turns. Crosswalks for pedestrians were also included, and the state said previously that bicyclists would be able to enter the roundabout the same way automobiles do because of lowered speeds.

The roundabout models others the state has designed in Milford, Killingworth and West Haven.

jeff.johnson@theday.com

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