The most talked about intersection in Morgantown is giving people a new reason to talk. The new roundabout at Mileground Road and Route 705 will open Wednesday.
The opening comes quickly after the Division of Highways said that the contractor has asked to get traffic off the old intersection so it can finish this phase of the project.
Tuesday, the DOH held classes for first responders to help them navigate the roundabout, but a handful of locals stopped by too with many questions.
"I have about 30 employees back at our office that are going to need to know immediately how to negotiate the roundabout, because as they're entering they have to be in the left lane, because if they don't stay in the left lane they will be directed down towards Stewartstown rd., and then when they get down there, they'll have to turn around again," said Phil Leinbach, a local business owner.
Navigating the roundabout can be tricky business, but the DOH said they are both safer and better at handling large volumes of traffic than a traditional intersection.
When traveling through one it's all about lane selection, and the DOH's communication director Brent Walker said thinking of a roundabout like a clock can help.
"When you are proceeding a quarter of a turn, or a half a turn, you can either be in the right, or left lane. Anything past the half turn, you'll need to be in the left lane and proceed around," said Walker.
The general concept sounds simple but let's look a bit closer. The DOH said the majority of traffic proceeds from the Mileground Rd. to Route 705, and vice versa. This is a simple route.
"You can utilize both the right lane and left lane, and continue on in the same lane to 705," said Walker. "There's not much thought there. Likewise from 705 to the Mileground. For the short term you want to stay in the right lane, because the left lane will be continuous around to the new school. That's short term."
The "three-quarter turn" is where some struggle with the roundabout. Drivers trying to go from the Mileground to Willey St., Willey St. to 705, 705 to Eastwood Elementary and Eastwood Elementary to the Mileground must utilize the left lane only, making three-quarters of a turn around the roundabout.
A principle the DOH couldn't stress more is that roundabouts are designed to give the right of way to those inside them. All drivers approaching one must yield to the traffic already there.
The DOH does expect traffic at the intersection to begin decreasing with the roundabout, but added that without the other two phases of the project complete, which is slated to take another 2 years, the full potential of the roundabout will not be reached.
If you still want more direction watch the DOH's instructional roundabout video and further tips.