Kentucky’s First Mini-Roundabout Opens

July 26, 2021

Kentucky’s first mini-roundabout has opened. Designed by Gresham Smith as part of the KYTC’s Highway Safety Improvement Program, the mini-roundabout replaced the existing four-way-stop at the US 60/KY 801 intersection in Rowan County, Kentucky.

The current intersection is along a critical I-64 alternate route between interchanges and has a high crash history. The project team conducted a study that reviewed crash analytics over a five-year period that revealed that the existing safety initiatives were inadequate within and approaching the intersection. The mini-roundabout deploys countermeasures to improve overall driver behavior, safety, traffic flow, access management, aesthetics and environmental impacts, while minimizing impacts to adjacent properties.

Expected to become more common across the state in the future, the mini-roundabout brings a fresh and innovative design approach to Kentucky. This particular design incorporates concepts that have been used successfully in other states by utilizing a fully traversable concrete central island and splitter islands to accommodate large trucks while slowing down passenger vehicles. The design allows for a smaller inscribed diameter, decreasing the overall footprint, and allows a quick turnaround between project conception and construction.

“We’re proud of our work to design the state’s first mini-roundabout because it pushes the boundaries of conventional roundabout design while improving safety,” said Jim Brannon, P.E., Kentucky state transportation leader at Gresham Smith. “This concept will provide a creative solution to a problem area that has historically been difficult to manage.”

During the design process, the firm held both virtual and in-person meetings to engage the public, local officials, and key stakeholders about potential options for improving the intersection. The firm presented the intersection crash history and produced a “Mini-Roundabouts 101” brochure that detailed the purpose and benefits of the mini-roundabout design. Armed with this information, the public was very receptive to the mini-roundabout solution.

The mini-roundabout was designed to accommodate local traffic, tractor trailers coming from the interstate, and recreational vehicles with boats accessing Cave Run Lake. A combination of signs, markings, transverse rumble strips and flashers were designed to passively influence safer driver behavior and alert motorists of the upcoming sensitive area to angle around.