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.
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.
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.
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
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