They call it a 'turbo roundabout'; drivers may call it confusing
If you hear "Turbo Roundabout" around Jacksonville, it's not a Mario Kart level. It's the newest traffic pattern from the Jacksonville Transportation Authority.
The special roundabout, which the JTA says is the first of its kind in the country, features multiple lanes, a spiral pattern with dividers and widened multiuse paths.
The $4 million project sits at the intersection of Merrill Road and University Boulevard in Arlington and feeds into the entrance of Jacksonville University.
At a ribbon-cutting Thursday, JTA officials and councilwoman Joyce Morgan, whose district includes JU, said the special roundabout was a way to cut down on traffic at the intersection while also improving safety.
The design of turbo roundabouts originated in Europe about a decade ago, and they're also used in some Canadian cities. The inner lane is used to go straight, make a left or a U-turn. The outer lane is to go straight or make a right.
Dividers discourage lane changes, and the spiral pattern has drivers choose which lane they want to be in before they enter the roundabout.
According to JTA CEO Nat Ford, the intersection typically sees about 33,000 crossings each day — about 10,000 on University and 23,000 on Merrill Road.
An empty space currently occupies the center of the roundabout. JU President Tim Cost says the university awarded an art project to a "world renowned" San Francisco artist who has been commissioned to design an art piece to decorate the space post-COVID.