Thursday, December 6, 2018

Kernan and McCormick Intersection Options

Proposed McCormick and Kernan Intersection
This article may not get very many hits because no one is going to search for something that seems to be a no-brainer. But I was inspired to create an interesting design option based on a road configuration I saw in The Villages. And if anything is a no-brainer, it's that nothing can be inspiring in The Villages. But this was. With all of its uses of traffic circles / roundabouts, one intersection stood out to me, and it could lead to an option for Kernan and McCormick if we're willing to think outside the box.

I know, it's safe in the box. Major road; subdivision entrance; cul de sacs; gridlock. We still end up with cars getting burglarized, and the traffic is worse. But if it's not a true grid pattern, then any other road that goes through is merely a shortcut. Anyhow, we're stuck with this system over near Kernan and McCormick. Also, I'm not sure roundabouts work once a road gets to have a certain amount of traffic, so forgive me if it's all wrong, road engineer-types. Looks like Minnesota's DOT has approved roundabouts for traffic up to 80,000 vehicles per day (ADT). According to Florida DOT, we're at 29,000 on McCormick and 16,000 for Kernan. While, I'm not sure they can be added together, I'll just do that to be safe. 45,000, which means still short of the 80,000 limit.

Now is the time for me to say that I kind of hate roundabouts. It's not easy for me to say one might work, and it's not easy to say that something designed for a planned community might be right elsewhere, but I just wonder if a new idea is ever considered around here, so I figured I'd throw it out there. In theory, traffic circles lead to less accidents and improved flow. They also slow people down a bit. Let's take a look at what I came up with to see if that would be the case:
Modified Bypass Roundabout at Kernan and McCormick
The reason why the Morse Blvd circle I saw in The Villages was unique was its bypass system. Since I don't love traffic circles in the first place, it was nice to bypass the circle, so that's the idea that I used in my redesign of McCormick at Kernan. If you are traveling westbound on McCormick, there's a bypass (like the one in The Villages). But mine takes it even further, since you can bypass the circle if you are traveling eastbound on McCormick and want to go south on Kernan. Or, you can also bypass if you're heading northbound on Kernan and want to head east on McCormick. Everyone else gets into a two-lane wide traffic circle to exit where they must.

I think traffic circles are tough for pedestrians, so that's where the lights would be. I have crossings and sidewalks marked in yellow in the photo. A pedestrian hits a button, and the light turns red, then moves to flashing red. I do not know how many people venture out on foot around there, but it's worth having a way to cross, even if it's only crossing McCormick using one of the two crossings I added. 

Other design features include a new exit from Grace Lutheran School that becomes the right-turn only lane for east-bound McCormick, making it safer to leave the church and school. The best design feature, however, is the circle itself. A green area that can have a monument installed, like a statue of Mayor Curry that looks like the Ponce de Leon one down in St. Augustine. Or just a retention pond.

Since I don't understand all the intricacies of traffic circles, I might be missing something. The flow might be too good here and gum up the works at McCormick and Monument. I am sure the lights are timed all across the city, and this would not allow timing to help flow. And there seem to be a couple of driveways on the north McCormick bypass that will be forced to go west. Still, I think it's an interesting option that (as of 2018) still has land available to make it happen (south side of McCormick).

I would also like to apologize ahead of time in case someone does develop a traffic circle here and it ends up being a complete disaster. But when it doesn't happen and there's a new gas station, apartment complex, longer lights, more gridlock at the intersection, and no way left to redesign it all,  at least I can say I threw an idea out there that might have helped.