In 2021, the City will work on Warrior Lane improvements to remedy traffic congestion at the five-way stop. Upgrades in the Warrior Lane area began in 2020 with a complete makeover of the Waukee Public Library’s stormwater management system, parking lot and driveways. This spring and summer, construction will take place on Warrior Lane from the library to SE Marshall Drive.
“The five-way intersection does experience delays and backups, particularly during school drop-off and dismissal times,” said Waukee Assistant Public Works Director of Engineering Sara Kappos. “Growth within the school district and new development in surrounding areas have added to traffic congestion. The construction of a roundabout will make this intersection more efficient by eliminating one leg of the intersection as well as the need for traffic to stop when it isn’t necessary.”
That’s right—a roundabout. It’s a feature that has been known to draw some opposition. However, a lot of studies, engineering and planning were factored into this decision.
“More than a decade ago, the City began purchasing adjacent homes as they became available in preparation for future improvements to South Warrior Lane. Our team began studying the five-way intersection and South Warrior Lane in late 2018,” said Shive-Hattery Civil Engineer Nate Hardisty. “We collected traffic counts and patterns and produced traffic simulation models from the data. Different improvements options were tested and compared with the selected one-lane roundabout, proving it to be safer and more efficient.”
“Yes, Waukee drivers are used to stop signs and traffic signals,” said Hardisty, “but this particular roundabout should make for an easy transition as there is only one lane in any given direction. Drivers will not have to navigate the roundabout with vehicles directly next to them.”
It’s also set up to be safer for pedestrians than a typical stop sign- or traffic signal-controlled intersection. “For pedestrians crossing an intersection with a traffic signal, they must cross at least one traffic lane in each direction in addition to turn lanes,” said Hardisty. “The typical crossing of a signalized intersection by a pedestrian is four to five times longer with more potential vehicle conflict points than that of this roundabout.”
Federal Highway Administration studies and others show a large reduction of crashes, particularly injury-related crashes, at roundabouts. “With these improvements in place, pedestrians will cross only one lane of traffic at a time before reaching a landing zone, meaning they only need to watch for vehicles coming from one direction at a time,” added Kappos.
What to Expect in Upcoming Months
To create the roundabout, Northview Drive will be disconnected from the existing Warrior Lane and Ashworth Drive intersection and will be connected to Ashworth Drive 300 feet to the west. This will help keep through traffic off residential Northview Drive.
The five-way stop intersection will close completely following the end of the Waukee Community School District academic year. The new project is anticipated to be completed before school begins in the fall of 2021. Updates regarding news about partial spring closures will be shared on the City’s website and other news resources.
As early as March, Warrior Lane will close from the south side of the five-way intersection to Waukee Middle School. The Bel Aire Drive/Warrior Lane intersection will also close during that time. The Waukee Middle School driveways will not be impacted; however, traffic will need to approach the school from the south and depart by heading south, as well. Detour and alert signs will be posted.
Construction costs are approximately $3.2 million. The project is funded in part by $1.7 million in grants from the Iowa Department of Transportation.
Visit waukee.org/projectupdates to follow construction updates on this and all City of Waukee public improvement projects.