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3 roundabouts proposed for Binkley Street

Posted: January 12, 2014 - 7:59pm  |  Updated: January 12, 2014 - 8:10pm
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Photo by Dan Balmer Peninsula Clarion. Two cars drive by the corner of Marydale Ave. and Binkley St. Sunday in Soldotna. The intersection is one of three proposed sites for a roundabout on Binkley St. The other two sites are at Wilson Lane by Safeway and Redoubt St.
Photo by Dan Balmer Peninsula Clarion. Two cars drive by the corner of Marydale Ave. and Binkley St. Sunday in Soldotna. The intersection is one of three proposed sites for a roundabout on Binkley St. The other two sites are at Wilson Lane by Safeway and Redoubt St.

By the end of construction season this year, the Kenai Peninsula could see its first roundabouts.

The proposed plans for Binkley Street rehabilitation in Soldotna calls for mini roundabouts at the street’s intersections at Wilson Lane, Redoubt Avenue and Marydale Drive.

Kyle Kornelis, city engineer, and Joe McElroy, consultant with engineering and surveying firm SGM, Inc., presented the proposed solution for Binkley Street at Soldotna’s council meeting on Wednesday.

“Obviously (roundabouts) come with mixed reviews,” Kornelis said. “Some folks really like them, some folks don’t like them.”

McElroy said the idea of roundabouts came from the busy Wilson Lane intersection. With the poor sight distances and heavy traffic, he was surprised data didn’t show more accidents at the intersection.

“There’s much more screaming and honking and fingers that go up in this intersection because you just can’t see,” he said.

Any other traffic control device wouldn’t work as well as a roundabout solution, he said. And the mini roundabouts fit within the 60-foot right-of-way, which exists along the majority of the nearly 1-mile long street, he said.

As crews continued considering Binkley Street and conducted traffic counts, they realized roundabouts could be the best solution for the intersections at Redoubt Avenue and Marydale Drive, which can get backed up especially during rush hour, McElroy said.

He said Redoubt Avenue is a “painful four-way stop,” but probably doesn’t need a roundabout as badly as the other two intersections.

Each roundabout would be one-lane wide and medians would be constructed with gradual curbs allowing for semi trucks and other large vehicles to drive over them, if necessary.

“The reason why we raise (the medians) is because you don’t want your everyday traffic doing that,” McElroy said. “You want people in the flow of traffic in the lane they’re supposed to be in.”

He said roundabouts provide a safety buffer for pedestrians. Traffic will hit crosswalks about 30 feet before the actual roundabouts and other traffic. Pedestrians also only cross one lane of traffic at a time, he said.

“These roundabouts have been proven to be safer,” McElroy said. “That probably goes against a lot of people’s intuition because I think when you first go into a roundabout you think you’re going to die.”

He said the bulk of traffic on Binkley Street is commuter traffic and he thinks drivers will learn how to navigate the roundabouts quickly.

Along with three roundabouts, improvements to Binkley Street include repaving, widening sidewalks and landscaping.

The preliminary plans squeezed down the driving surface and bike lanes to give sidewalks more space. Creating a tighter driving area also helps to slow traffic, McElroy said.

The $2.6 million dollar project is 100 percent funded by state grants.


Kaylee Osowski can be reached at

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jlmh 01/12/14 - 09:04 pm
A roundabout at the Wilson

A roundabout at the Wilson intersection would be most welcome. Turning left out of the Safeway parking lot is a doozy. Actually there's no good way out of the Safeway parking lot for northbound traffic. Either you're darting out onto Binkley at the bottom of a blind hill, or you're blocked by a median, or you're yielding to five busy lanes of Sterling Highway traffic. One could probably smooth out congestion at Marydale too.

akhiker 01/15/14 - 01:32 pm
let's not reinvent the wheel, folks

Really? Roundabouts? Studies show that elderly folks have a very hard time navigating roundabouts. What happened to plain old red lights?? That is all we need: plain, simple, cheap. Not some expensive and time-consuming (to build) new traffic pattern. This is not Anchorage, nor do we care to be. Think of how many elderly go to CPH. Do we want to give them MORE stress? A red light takes how long to put up, maybe a day?

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