City considering roundabout at Sessom-Academy intersection


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The city of San Marcos may partner with Texas State University on a project that would install a roundabout at the intersection of Academy Street and Sessom Drive in San Marcos.The city of San Marcos may partner with Texas State University on a project that would install a roundabout at the intersection of Academy Street and Sessom Drive in San Marcos. courtesy city of San Marcos

At a June 7 meeting San Marcos City Council directed city staff to move forward with a plan to install a roundabout at the three-way intersection of Sessom Drive and Academy Street near Texas State University.

The decision to build a roundabout is not finalized, but City Manager Jared Miller said council’s direction will allow staff to work on fine-tuning the concept before it is presented to council again with more detail.

Design of the project is scheduled to begin in 2017, and construction could begin by 2019, according to a presentation given to City Council.

Miller said he thinks there will likely be a public comment period or public information session related to the project, but the fact that the city and Texas State are in agreement that the roundabout is the best option provides strong direction to move forward.

Rohit Vij, San Marcos senior project engineer, said in a presentation to City Council regarding the intersection that the project will also improve storm drainage on properties east of Academy.

The city of San Marcos and Texas State may jointly fund the project, according to Vij’s presentation.

“The objective from Texas State is to slow down traffic in this area and make this intersection more pedestrian-friendly,” Vij said.

Academy and Sessom intersect on a curve, which Vij said creates sightline issues and unsafe pedestrian crossings.

The roundabout would fix those issues and would slow down traffic passing through the area, Vij said. The roundabout would also provide additional green space within the project area as well as a separated path for bicycles.

The roundabout would cost about $1.03 million, according to a city estimate, making it the most expensive option the city discussed for the intersection.

The roundabout would require acquisition of privately owned right of way, Vij said. Right-of-way acquisition has not been factored into the cost. It would also lower pedestrian visibility, according to the presentation.

Among the alternatives to what Vij called “a full-blown roundabout” are a mini roundabout and a conventional intersection with a traffic signal.

The mini roundabout could reduce travel speeds, provide a separated path for bicycles and would not require right-of-way acquisition. Among the mini roundabout’s cons, were that it has a relatively high price tag of $1 million and would make bus travel through the intersection more difficult, Vij said.

A conventional intersection would provide a dedicated left-turn lane for drivers turning from Sessom onto Academy, Vij said. It would also improve bus operation. The cons of the conventional intersection are that it could create travel delays for drivers who might wait at a red light during times with little or no oncoming traffic. The conventional intersection also does not reduce speeds and would force cyclists turning left onto Academy to ride with traffic, he said.

The conventional intersection would cost $671,000, according to a city estimate.

According to TxDOT, roundabouts typically cost more to install than traditional intersections, but the long-term maintenance costs are lower.

The city of San Marcos may partner with Texas State University on a project that would install a roundabout at the intersection of Academy Street and Sessom Drive in San Marcos.