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Roundabout bumps up bus route efficiency

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The roundabout at the intersection of Twin Bluff Road and Pioneer Road opened in late August just before Red Wing students headed back to school. Sally Shepard / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 2

The completion of the roundabout at Pioneer and Twin Bluff roads August came just in time as Red Wing students began the 2017 school year.

The project played well into the school district's summer construction at Twin Bluff Middle School.

"We are grateful for the city's work," Superintendent Karsten Anderson said. "The roundabout near Twin Bluff has greatly benefited students, parents and the school district."

Bus route timing has also seen a positive impact from the roundabout.

"Buses are able to leave the middle school parking area in a timely fashion and do not have to stop repeatedly on their way to and from other locations," Anderson said.

The superintendent said improvements to the student pick-up procedures at the end of the day at Twin Bluff will continue.

"We are significantly better than last year, but we still have cars lined up into Twin Bluff Road causing a back-up for a 10-minute period," he said. "We are exploring various options to see if they will further alleviate congestion at the end of the day."

Red Wing Police Sgt. Joe Juliar monitored the area as students and parents headed back to school. Juliar said, overall, traffic flowed smoothly.

"Once people got into their routine and rhythm, we were pleasantly surprised," he said.

Juliar advises motorists to give themselves a little more time while approaching the roundabout, watch the signage and be aware of their surroundings.

Fewer stops, less noise

Donna Lee and Jim Fairbanks live just behind the roundabout on Pioneer Road. The road closures during the summer months caused them to get creative, utilizing a neighbor's backyard as an exit.

"The project managers kept in great communication with us," Donna Lee Fairbanks said. "We knew what to expect as construction moved along."

She said one of the biggest differences since the roundabout's completion is a decrease in noise from the morning school rush.

"Because people aren't having to come to a complete stop, we don't hear the cars as much. It's great," Fairbanks said.

The total project cost including all engineering, project administration and construction is approximately $1,584,060. The cost is split between the City General Obligation Bond covering $727,000 and Goodhue County covering $160,000. Two grants received from the Federal Safe Routes to School Funding and Federal Highway Administration Funding funded approximately $700,000 of the project's total cost.