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Roundabouts coming full-circle in Johnston County

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Johnston County drivers are seeing roundabouts more frequently these days. As traffic circles are built, transportation officials say knowing how to use them will help keep North Carolina moving.

In Clayton, there’s a roundabout at East Front Street at Bent Branch Loop Road. There are two in Smithfield at N.C. 42 at N.C. 39 and Outlet Center Drive at Industrial Park Drive.

In the Cleveland community outside Clayton, a roundabout at Glen Road at Technology Drive is scheduled for completion in 2020.

On the Benson roundabout at the intersection of U.S. 301 (Wall Street) and N.C. 50 (Main Street), along with a pedestrian crosswalk, N.C. Department of Transportation spokesman Andrew Barksdale said the NCDOT plans to advertise and open up construction bids in April.

The junction of N.C. 42 and N.C. 96 near Selma was changed into an all-way stop earlier this year. The NCDOT plans construct a roundabout there by 2020.

Barksdale said they can be intimidating at first, but roundabouts are designed to be safer and more efficient than traditional intersections.

“When approaching a roundabout, slow down and look left as you come upon the yield sign. Remember to yield to traffic already in the roundabout,” said Barksdale. “Once you see a gap in traffic, enter the circle and proceed to your exit. You do not have to yield if there are no vehicles in the traffic circle.

“Once you’re moving in the roundabout, stay in the same lane, obey all signs, look for pedestrians or bicyclists and use your turn signal before exiting.”

In addition, bicyclists should navigate the roundabout like vehicles do. Drivers shouldn’t pass a bicycle in a roundabout for safety reasons and must yield to pedestrians using a crosswalk at the roundabout.