Warning to roadsters heading to I-15 from Utah Valley State College: State troopers likely are watching for drivers who mistake the European-style roundabout on College Drive for an entrance to the any-speed-goes Autobahn.
A unique-to-Utah Valley roundabout and hook ramp leading to the interstate from the Orem college recently won accolades from the Consulting Engineers of Utah.Fehr & Peers Associates Inc. were awarded the grand prize at the 1998 Engineering Excellence competition for the designs, which were patterned after infrastructure common in major European cities.
"The updated design is planned to take the college to 2020," said Ron Mortimer, transportation consultant for the engineering company. "The new infrastructure is capable of handling 28,000 students, or doubling of traffic volumes."
The $3.4 million project was funded by the 1995 Legislature as a part of the 15,000-student school's allocation for capital improvements. Work on the roundabout was completed in December 1996, and the hook ramp was finished by August 1997.
UVSC officials say the roundabout installed at the south entrance to the college was the first such fully operational intersection in Utah. Five more were scheduled to be built in various Utah locations after UVSC's was completed.
West Valley officials will visit UVSC Tuesday to determine if the design would solve some infrastructure problems in the Salt Lake suburb, said Val Peterson, associate vice president of college relations.
"At first, skepticism about the functionality of the roundabout was a concern for UVSC faculty and local residents," said Mortimer. "So we held several open houses to explain the concept and distributed pamphlets to faculty and students to better explain how to drive a roundabout."
Accidents have decreased since the roundabout was installed. One accident was reported last year. The previous intersection averaged six accidents per year.
The freeway access ramp was the answer to solving traffic woes for students trying to get in and out of campus during school, peak travel hours and special events, officials said.
Utah has few ramps similar in design. Fehr and Peers worked for six months with the Utah Department of Transportation and federal highway officials on the design and approval of the hook ramp.
UVSC sophomore Holly Hatfield said she thinks the roundabout and hook ramp ease some congestion on the road in front of the school. The Orem resident was watching traffic from a grassy knoll on campus Thursday afternoon.
"The first couple of times can be confusing," she said, "but the signs say which way to go."