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Work is expected to begin today on a traffic circle to alleviate congestion at a busy Hilton Head Island intersection.
About 12,000 vehicles pass the corner of Arrow Road and Dunnagans Alley each day. At peak afternoon and evening drive hours, it can be difficult to make a left turn or pass through the intersection from Dunnagans Alley, according to a 2009 traffic count.
That much traffic typically would merit a stoplight, but concerns arose about backups that might be caused by a signal 450 feet away at Arrow Road and William Hilton Parkway, according to town staff.
"A roundabout does a better job of keeping traffic moving by providing a continual flow through the intersection and should improve safety" as drivers will be forced to slow down to navigate the circle, assistant town engineer Bryan McIlwee said.
The project includes crosswalks on Arrow Road and Dunnagans Alley on both sides of the circle. Separate plans would replace on-street bike lanes on Arrow Road with paved, off-street paths.
The town intends to build a multipurpose path along the south side of Dunnagans Alley from Arrow Road to Palmetto Bay Road, and along the northeast side of Palmetto Bay Road from Dunnagans Alley to Target Road.
The project would link bicyclists and pedestrians to the beach, McIlwee said. The new paths would connect with paths along Palmetto Bay Road from Target Road to the Cross Island Parkway, and along Target Road to Arrow Road. McIlwee said construction for that pathway project would follow the roundabout's completion, scheduled for mid-December.
Both projects are part of a plan to make the area pedestrian-friendly. The money to build the $645,700 roundabout will come from revenue from a tax-increment finance district, McIlwee said.
No detours are planned during construction. Traffic will be able to pass through the intersection, but some lanes will be temporarily closed to accommodate the work, McIlwee said. Drivers should use caution, he said.
Mike Reeves, vice president of Espy Lumber, which is at the northeast corner of the intersection, said he's happy to see the traffic improvements.
"Regular traffic and pedestrian flow is hampered at the intersection. You can sit there for a long time on Dunnagans Alley at the Wexford connector waiting to get out because Arrow Road has become so busy," Reeves said. "I think the roundabout will make traffic flow smoother."
Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/EyeOnHiltonHead.