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They call it a 'turbo roundabout'; drivers may call it confusing

The new roundabout, which also serves as the entrance to Jacksonville University, carries about 33,000 vehicles daily.

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.

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Raymon Troncoso
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WJCT News
City Council members Joyce Morgan and Ron Salem, along with JTA CEO Nat Ford and JU President Tim Cost, cut a ribbon to formally open the turbo roundabout. The roundabout had already been in operation and open to the public for roughly a month.

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.

Reporter Raymon Troncoso joined WJCT News in June of 2021 after concluding his fellowship with Report For America, where he was embedded with Capitol News Illinois covering Illinois state government with a focus on policy and equity. You can reach him at (904) 358-6319 or Rtroncoso@wjct.org and follow him on Twitter @RayTroncoso.