Improvements are coming to a north Forth Worth roundabout with ambiguous markings and curbs after residents brought concerns to the city’s attention.
Jason Allen attends church near the new roundabout, at Old Denton and Shiver roads, and “noticed something didn’t seem right” last month as he drove through it.
“There are no lane markings, despite there being two lanes in it,” Allen said. “And I noticed several cars were driving over the center curb because there’s no delineation. It’s the same color as the road and it blends in.”
It “didn’t seem right at all” to Allen or many others who live in the densely-populated area between North Tarrant and Heritage Trace parkways, which includes schools, endless subdivisions and Alliance Town Center.
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Allen sent the city an email and photographs of the intersection on Thanksgiving, and again two weeks later before receiving an answer.
The city will add reflective markers, or buttons, to the inner apron in a couple of weeks, and the contractor will rebuild it soon afterward “so it doesn’t look like the other part of the road,” said Alonzo Linan, assistant director of Fort Worth’s Transportation and Public Works Department.
“It’s always a concern when it’s not built like we’d like, but we’re attempting to address that now,” Linan said.
The “design change” will influence other roundabout constructions in the city. However, lane markings won’t be added.
“As a practice, we’re not going to do that,” Linan said.
The ambiguity is intentional, in case drivers unfamiliar with this type of intersection feel uncomfortable driving side-by-side, Linan said.
Two clearly marked lanes lead up to each of the three entry points into the circle, but the markings don’t continue inside the roundabout. There’s enough space for two cars to go through side-by-side — separated by subtle “cuts” in the pavement — but if drivers want to straddle the middle, they can.
“We’re relying on the concrete cuts to give people flexibility,” he said. “We’re allowing the driving population to get more comfortable with it and take up both lanes if they feel like it.”
Roundabouts are fairly new to the area, Linan said, and the city and contractors are still learning the best way to design and build them.
Other cities in Tarrant County, including Colleyville, Southlake and Trophy Club, have joined in the roundabout boom, building them to replace four-way stops in an effort to keep traffic flowing and reduce the possibility of head-on and side-impact crashes.
“We’re excited about using roundabouts as traffic control throughout city, and we look forward to having more of them,” Linan said. “They are a good tool to have in our toolbox.”
Allen said he and “lots of other people in the neighborhood” who were upset about the apparent safety issue are glad now that the city is addressing it.
However, “someone should’ve seen that this isn’t good” before opening it up to the public, he said.
Mark David Smith, 817-390-7808