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Chena Pump Road & Chena Small Tracts Road Roundabout
Survey Results, Comments and Responses

We asked what you thought of a roundabout at Chena Pump & Chena Small Tracts, and you answered! View the results here:

In the survey, we provided an option to leave your phone number and receive a follow-up phone call. We spoke to 49 people between May and June 2021 and heard great additional feedback. Thank you to everyone who participated.

A strong majority of respondents expressed that something needs to be done to improve safety and operations at this intersection. We heard some common questions and themes in the survey and follow-up phone calls that we have summarized here.

Isn’t there too much traffic on Chena Pump and the speeds too high for a roundabout to be effective?
We are confident a single-lane roundabout will easily handle current and projected volumes at this intersection. Roundabouts by design force drivers to slow down, but do not require drivers to stop if there are no cars or bicycles/pedestrians present. They are typically designed to drive through at 20 miles-per-hour. The design would transition southbound Chena Pump traffic from four lanes to two lanes in advance of the roundabout, which would eliminate the “jockeying for position” that occurs right at the intersection today.

Will you be able to effectively maintain the roundabout in the winter?
We acknowledge that roundabouts can get slick in winter conditions, but this is also true of any intersection where slow-moving, warm tires travel over cold pavement. The good news is we’re learning more and refining our practices in winter maintenance of roundabouts:

  • Chena Pump Road is a used as a turnaround (at Pump House) for our plow team’s Priority 1 loop, extending from the Johansen Expressway and Geist Road. This means this roundabout will be one of the first areas to get plowed and sanded after a snow event.
  • Application of high friction surface treatment on the roundabout and approaches helps tires grip to the pavement, even in the ice and snow.
  • We believe this location will provide adequate snow storage, which means we won’t have to haul snow as often as some urban areas.

Will big trucks and vehicles with trailers be able to use the roundabout?
The roundabout will be designed to accommodate trucks making deliveries, school buses, and vehicles with trailers that access the Chena or Tanana Rivers. If you are concerned about your vehicle’s ability to navigate the roundabout, we encourage you to reach out to us.

Would extra lanes for turning traffic to slow down or gain speed, or an extension of the four lanes on Chena Pump Road beyond the intersection solve the problem?
Further widening the road to carry two through-lanes in each direction through the intersection and keeping the turn lanes would impact the slough, bike path and private property. Widening to the Pump House impacts the Cripple Creek Bridge and the Pump House itself, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. While we appreciate this suggestion, it does not solve the delay problem experienced by the side streets trying to turn left or cross the intersection, and would make crossing Chena Pump Road even more difficult for bicycles and pedestrians due to added width.

Wouldn’t a traffic signal be better than a roundabout?
A traffic signal would improve the delay experienced by Chena Small Tracts and Old Chena Ridge drivers trying to enter Chena Pump Road. However, data show new traffic signals introduce rear-end crashes where they didn’t exist before. Numerous survey respondents commented they did not favor a signal and, in follow up phone calls with our staff, expressed that there are already too many signals causing congestion as they come from the Parks Highway/Geist Road. Roundabouts cause less delay overall compared to signals and they reduce the potential for serious crashes that can still happen at the high speeds of Chena Pump Road.

If you think people should slow down, why not reduce the speed limit?
Speed is an issue on Chena Pump Road. Numerous survey respondents stated this intersection is about where speeds start to increase. A roundabout would provide some speed-calming for drivers on Chena Pump in both directions and likely have residual effects for calming at the Pump House.

Some respondents suggested reducing the speed limit is needed. This segment of Chena Pump was reduced from 55 mph to 45 mph in the early 2000s. Operating speeds have not dropped to 45 mph, which indicates that without increased law enforcement action, we cannot reasonably expect traffic would slow down with a reduction to the posted speed. Learn more about how we establish speed limits here.

How will a roundabout affect entrance to the transfer site?
We are working closely with the Fairbanks North Star Borough Solid Waste Division to ensure our design accommodates garbage-hauling trucks and will be compatible with any future upgrades they may plan for the Chena Pump transfer site off Old Chena Ridge Road.

What are you going to do about the safety concerns near the Pump House?
We will monitor this location and evaluate the possibility of extending illumination or possibly constructing a turn lane. Widening for a turn lane may be constrained, however, due to the protected nature of historic properties and the Cripple Creek bridge. However, we believe a roundabout at Chena Small Tracts may have downstream benefits to this location, given its proximity to the slowed-down traffic at the roundabout.

What is the estimated construction cost?
Estimated cost is $3M.

When do you expect construction to begin?
We expect construction to begin in 2025.

Do you expect any private property will be impacted?
At this time we believe the proposed concept will fit within existing right of way, so no private property will be impacted.