New Roundabout a Point of Pride for Indiana’s City of Beech Grove

Roundabouts maintain traffic flow as they improve safety, and are increasingly becoming the smart intersection solution. GAI Transportation Engineer Jay Vorisek, PE* discusses a standout roundabout project that the company’s Midwest Infrastructure team accomplished for the city of Beech Grove, Indiana.


A ribbon-cutting on July 26, 2020 officially opened traffic to a new roundabout in the city of Beech Grove, Indiana. Located at the crossing of South Arlington Avenue and Churchman Bypass, the innovative intersection is the latest in a succession of safety and traffic-flow enhancing roundabouts that GAI’s Jay Vorisek, PE and the firm’s Midwest Infrastructure team have brought to life for municipal clients across the state.

Simplifying Driver Decisions, Roundabouts Become a Go-To Option

The social-distanced ceremony welcomed another gain in Beech Grove’s mission to provide local motorists with safer driving on the city’s increasingly traveled roadways. “Roundabouts simplify traffic flow, and by doing so simplify the decisions that drivers have to make,” said Vorisek, the project’s lead designer and engineer of record. “Roundabouts basically reduce tasks, so drivers only have to look to their left when entering traffic. In situations that present closely spaced or oddly configured intersections, the roundabout can really help with the driver’s decision-making process.”

The simplification of driver tasks is clearly evident in an innovative peanut roundabout that the GAI team is currently designing for an especially challenging intersection in Beech Grove —it’s part of a trend that has seen roundabouts ever gaining popularity in the state. “Here in Indiana, roundabouts are definitely among the preferred options that our clients want us to look at in designing intersections. In fact, many local agencies are asking to look at roundabouts as a first choice,” said Vorisek, who has taken part in 85 roundabout projects across Indiana.

Multi-Road Intersection Gets a Much-Needed Makeover

The primary intersection comprising Churchman Bypass and South Arlington Avenue has seen traffic grow significantly in recent years. A local service route called Big Four Road connected to Arlington Avenue just north of the main signaled crossing, further raising safety and access concerns. GAI’s task was to simplify the complicated traffic conditions created by two intersections in close proximity and offer a safer, more efficient option for both vehicles and pedestrians.

“When an additional road comes into a four-way intersection, it becomes difficult for a standard signal to handle the situation very well,” said Vorisek. “The idea was that we could improve safety by removing the signal at the main crossing roads and installing a roundabout. By doing so, we could incorporate the additional service road into the roundabout while greatly simplifying the maneuvers drivers needed to execute.”

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The result is a “5-legged roundabout” in which all entry points have equal access, drivers only need to look to their left to enter traffic, and traffic flow is maintained more safely throughout.

Right-of-way constraints were a key consideration in the roundabout’s design and construction. “Roundabouts typically take up a significant piece of real estate, and in this project, we had to work hard to carefully fine-tune the geometry of the roundabout to make it fit into the space the client had without encroaching on surrounding properties,” said Vorisek. In addition to configuring the roundabout to fit into the space available, attention to grading around the project area helped ‘harmonize’ the roundabout with all the surrounding properties.

“Utilities presented another challenge,” said Vorisek. “The intersection is in a fully developed area with a multitude of utilities—our team coordinated efforts with the local utilities to see that services were relocated to meet their requirements, and that the roundabout was configured to allow access for service maintenance.”

Opening a New Gateway to the City

The July 26 ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Beech Grove roundabout was conducted in accordance with COVID-19 pandemic health precautions. Beech Grove Mayor Dennis Buckley led the proceedings, addressing a gathering that included Vorisek, GAI’s Midwest Infrastructure Business Sector Leader Scott Hornsby and other GAI contributors, Beech Grove city staff and officials, local business leaders, and more.

Beech Grove ribbon cutting

The mayor previewed plans for making the roundabout into a signature gateway to the city, with a large sculpture of the Beech Grove High School “Hornets” mascot in the roundabout’s center island. “It’s a project of donations that have come together through several different companies, and we are really looking forward to getting that done,” said Mayor Buckley. “We’re the home of the Hornets … and it’s a great day to be a Hornet!”


Watch this clip from WISH-TV News 8, Indianapolis reporting on the October 2020 debut of the 20-foot-tall Hornet sculpture in Beech Grove’s new roundabout.

Comprehensive GAI Services Add Value for Clients

Beech Grove trusted GAI to provide a range of solutions for the roundabout project, including support in the funding application process, permitting, right-of-way engineering, traffic analysis, and roadway engineering.

“In projects for small cities like Beech Grove, the client looks to us to provide a number of services—and here we provided and managed the necessary development steps to take this project from the idea stage to construction,” said Vorisek. “In addition to offering the necessary services, GAI has experienced people to help the project go smoothly—people who know what concerns may present themselves before they happen, and can guide the project team and client through any issues to a successful outcome.”

Beech Grove’s Mayor Buckley shared his impression of working with GAI: “I found GAI Consultants to be a very professional organization, and it was a pleasure to work with them on the roundabout project. The design was excellent, any issues were handled smoothly, the company was open and accessible, and the end result was excellent.”

Read more about GAI’s work with roundabouts and other intersection solutions:

 
Contact Jay Vorisek, PE, 317.436.4846, for more information about roundabouts and the full scope of GAI’s transportation and traffic engineering services.


Jay Vorisek, PE is a recognized transportation design leader in Indiana—he has been involved in the development of 85 roundabouts, including Indiana’s first multi-lane roundabout in Carmel.

* Jay Vorisek is a licensed Professional Engineer in the state of Indiana.
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