ESCANABA - Construction of the intersection that bisects Washington Avenue and Sheridan Road off Stephenson Avenue is now complete. A roundabout placed at the intersection of the three streets officially opened Friday, giving motorists an opportunity to become familiar with the newly-configured road.
To aid residents feeling intimidated by the roundabout, city officials offered a free driving course to help them navigate.
"We had a few people turn out and take advantage of the free driver's training," said Escanaba City Manager Jim O'Toole.
Cars navigate through the new roundabout in Escanaba Friday.
He added the free driver's training was provided by Delta Driving School, under the direction of Al Hansen.
With the completion of the new roundabout there are also new benefits, including a crosswalk for pedestrian use along Sheridan Road.
The new crosswalk crosses Sheridan Road to Rose Park. O'Toole said prior to the construction of the roundabout, no crosswalk existed.
The location of the crosswalk - a short distance from the entrance of the roundabout - provides added visibility for motorists to see pedestrians, hopefully reducing the number of motor vehicle and pedestrian accidents.
Another benefit of the roundabout, is traffic will move slower as it passes Webster Elementary School (off Washington) and the Rose Park playground.
"Statistic show that when a roundabout is first installed, about 75 percent of the residents don't like it. ...As time goes on and people become more accustomed to the roundabout, the number diminishes, with 75 percent in favor compared to 25 percent opposed," said Hansen.
The $1.8 million road project was paid for through a Community Block Development Grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corp., and grants from the Michigan Department of Transportation.
The city's local share for the project is about $475,000.