Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Soon, You May Just Be Driving in Circles; A Traffic Roundabout Is Proposed for Heckscher Drive at the St. Johns River Ferry Landing

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Soon, You May Just Be Driving in Circles; A Traffic Roundabout Is Proposed for Heckscher Drive at the St. Johns River Ferry Landing

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID BAUERLEIN

Roundabouts are commonplace in Europe and some places in the United States, but in Northeast Florida, the circular traffic intersections have been as foreign as the metric system.

Slowly but surely, though, roundabouts are making inroads here, most recently in a proposal supported by Jacksonville City Hall to build a roundabout on Heckscher Drive at the St. Johns River Ferry landing.

The Heckscher Drive Community Club is pushing the idea. Bob Taylor, president of the community club, said the goal is to slow down drivers and give people a "sense of arrival" when they drive through Fort George Island.

The roundabout is the focal point of the community club's $1 million proposal for creating a town center on Heckscher Drive at the ferry. The community club has one of the 17 proposed in the city's Town Center Program.

"You can put up all the speed limit signs in the world and people are not going to slow down unless they have to," Taylor said. "You can't physically go faster than 25 miles an hour through a roundabout."

The idea still has to gain approval from the state Department of Transportation because Heckscher Drive is a state-owned road.

If a roundabout were built, it would join a growing list that has taken root in the past five years.

In Nassau County, Florida A1A already has three roundabouts. The Jacksonville Transportation Authority will build a roundabout on an Arlington Expressway access road as part of a project that's constructing a flyover ramp between the expressway and the Southside Connector. In St. Johns County, a roundabout opened last year at the junction of Palm Valley and Mickler roads.

Mega-developments such as Nocatee in St. Johns County also have touted roundabouts as a feature to incorporate in their streets.

St. Johns County Public Works Director Joe Stephenson said most of the reaction toward the Palm Valley Road roundabout has been favorable, though there are drivers who aren't as sure about it.

Dorothy Rose, who works at the Shoppes of Palm Valley shopping center next to the roundabout, said she recently watched a driver come up the roundabout and turn on a left-turn signal as if he were going to turn against the circular flow of traffic. …

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