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Getting 'Round the Roundabout Out Wickenburg Way

If you have not been in Wickenburg since last winter, you will experience a major change in traffic flow when you return to the area this fall. The new bridge over the Hassayampa River is completed and full operation of the bypass, with its two roundabouts, will begin on or about September 14th. The schematic below shows the new bridge and the lower (southern) roundabout.

Bypass Diagram
Figure 1, New Bridge and lower roundabout. Courtesy Arizona Dept. of Transportation.

The old bridges have been decommissioned for traffic use and the lower roundabout provides access to the traditional routes west on U.S. 60 and north on U.S. 93 and SR 89, as well as the historic downtown area. The upper roundabout is also in use, but it only provides access to Tegner Street (89/93) at present. In other words, the bypass connector between the two roundabouts will not become operational until mid-September.

The approaches to, and exits from, the roundabouts will have two lanes. I say “will” because there have been no paint stripes to identify and separate the lanes during the recent limited use period.

Roundabout Detail
Figure 2, Roundabout detail. Courtesy of Arizona Dept. of Transportation.

Figure 2 shows the intended traffic control details for lane operations. Unfortunately, the absence of paint stripes at the approaches to the roundabout, and within the circle, have allowed drivers to exercise some rather sloppy driving behavior during the past few weeks. Even with an apparent width of two lanes for vehicles to operate in, there is ample evidence that drivers have been failing to keep their cars and tractor-trailer rigs inside the prescribed area.

Roundabout
Figure 3, Absence of lane control in roundabouts.

Figure 3 shows a portion of the south roundabout circle. The brick pavers around the curbing are intended to server as a “shoulder,” much like a typical highway. You can see tire marks on the pavers and curbing, indicating that drivers were not staying inside the designated lanes. It remains to be seen whether this problem will continue when full operation commences, but this should serve as a warning to beware of other traffic (especially large trucks and trailers) when driving through the roundabouts.

By the time our winter visitors return to Wickenburg the new roundabouts and bypass will be “old hat” to local residents and the Phoenix/Las Vegas crowd. Nevertheless, it may be a new experience to you:

  • Approach the roundabouts at the posted speed limit.
  • Be alert to vehicles in front of you that may have slowed or stopped.
  • Vehicles inside the roundabout have the right of way.
  • Stay in your lane!

The bypass will eliminate the long lines of traffic at the intersection of Tegner Street and West Wickenburg Way. It will remove the noisy and smelly tractor-trailer rigs from the downtown area, and generally improve pedestrian safety. Moreover, it will allow the Vegas-Phoenix drivers (who view Wickenburg as nothing more than an inconvenient speed bump) to pass through town more quickly.

Last 5 posts by Allan Hall

4 comments to Getting 'Round the Roundabout Out Wickenburg Way

  • patsy henson

    will the “No fishing from bridge” signs located at the ends of the old bridge be kept? My father was Mayor of Wickenburg and was responsible for putting those signs up in the mid 50’s. I would like to think they will still be there

  • I sure hope they are, but I somehow doubt it. No one seems very interested in preserving what was unique and quaint about the town. Instead, they install pink sidewalks, erect terrifying sculptures of rattlesnakes and poisonous lizards, and preserve tourist attractions from a made-up history.

  • Allan Hall

    If you think about it, the old Eastbound Bridge will be preserved for pedestrian use. Therefore, it might be possible to erect a new sign that says “Fishing permitted on bridge.”

  • Ed

    Most people dont know how to drive in a roundabout, they wont observe the yield signs. The vehicles in the roundabout have the right of way. I have had several close calls due to this issue.
    For those drivers who are not experienced in driving a tractor trailer, when a tractor stays in the lane, the trailer will not, and it will cross into the other lane, or go up on the curb. The longer the trailer, the more this will happen. Of course, a small 20 foot boat trailer, or a 28 foot pup [ 1 trailer of a set of doubles, mostly pulled by UPS or freight companies like Yellow Freight, etc.] will stay in the lane. That is why you see the tire marks in figure 3 above. The road is too small to accomidate 53 foot trailers, so they have to cross into the other lane, or go across the curb when turning into the curb.