RIGBY — A new roundabout is under construction at the Farnsworth Way and Stockham Boulevard intersection here.
Construction began in August and is set to wrap this week. Business owners whose shops surround the new roundabout can’t wait for that final construction day to arrive because traffic delays are making potential customers avoid the area.
“For the last three weeks, with them stopping traffic, nobody’s come in here,” said Tammy Lott, part owner of Bob’s Kwik Services, a gas station and convenience store near the intersection.
While construction has been going on for months, traffic became especially slow in recent weeks when workers began paving the roads, which forced them to halt traffic in one direction at a time.
Many drivers have chosen to avoid the area altogether, which is hurting businesses, such as Bob’s Kwik Services.
“We have actually lost $8,000 to $10,000 every day,” Lott said.
Once completed, the roundabout is meant to help those businesses that are currently suffering from construction effects, according to Megan Stark, an Idaho Transportation Department spokeswoman.
“A roundabout helps traffic safety and traffic flow and easier access to businesses,” Stark said. “The main reason (for the roundabout) was to give equal access to all adjacent property owners while keeping a constant traffic flow.”
The intersection previously was a one-way stop sign on Stockham Boulevard, which often caused a line of cars trying to turn left onto Farnsworth Way, according to Brook Talbot, vice president and branch manager of D.L. Evans Bank.
Since the roundabout construction began, customer traffic at the bank is “probably down 50 percent,” Talbot said.
D.L. Evans is in a strip mall on the east side of the intersection. The bank is soon moving to a new location at 134 N. Clark St. Talbot said he’s never liked the bank’s current location and he doesn’t think the roundabout would improve customer traffic.
“If we were staying, I would be a little bit concerned,” he said. “It looks like it’s not going to be easy to get in here.”
Teased Salon and Spa is next door to D.L. Evans. Katie Jensen, part owner of the salon, said business has been slow and a lot of people are frustrated with the roundabout, but they’re more frustrated with the construction than the roundabout itself.
“I feel like (the roundabout) will be a good thing because we see a lot of accidents at that intersection,” Jensen said.
Traffic safety was a factor in building the roundabout. In the last 20 years, 37 car accidents with damages of $1,500 or more were reported at that intersection, according to data collected by ITD from police reports.
While roundabouts are meant to improve traffic flow and safety, drivers have to know how to travel through a roundabout for it to be effective.
The new roundabout in Rigby is causing some confusion among semi-truck drivers. Lott said truck drivers, who often visit Bob’s Kwik Services for its diesel pumps, have complained that the roundabout is too narrow for their large trucks.
However, the roundabout is designed to allow larger vehicles to drive on the curb, a fact that ITD is struggling to make known.
“They have it graded enough where it keeps most cars and trucks from curbing,” Stark said.
ITD shared an instructional video explaining how to use a roundabout to educate drivers.
“What we’re trying to do is put out as much of those videos as possible on social media and anywhere we can,” Stark said. “”We’re in the process of working on some better education on how to properly use a roundabout.”