GULFPORT -- The first roundabout in a heavily traveled area is expected to open later this week at the south end of Three Rivers Road and Airport Road.
Because Coast motorists are unaccustomed to the traffic circles, the city plans to post information this week on its website.
"We're anxious to get traffic on it to see how it works," said project manager Ben Smith of the engineering firm Brown, Mitchell & Alexander. He figures it will take a few weeks for motorists to acclimate themselves to the roundabout.
The speed limit around the circle will be 25 miles per hour, but there's no stopping with roundabouts.
"It's a continuous flow of traffic," Smith said. "You're never waiting on a red light to turn green. You may slow down, but you get through faster."
Engineers had considered replacing the stop sign on Three Rivers at Airport with a traffic signal, but the light could have interfered with air traffic.
The intersection sits just past the end of a runaway at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport.
With the population moving north after Hurricane Katrina, the intersection had outgrown its stop sign. The Mississippi Department of Transportation lists 2014 traffic counts for Airport Road at 14,000 per day and on Three Rivers at 11,000 a day.
Roundabouts are considered safer than other types of intersections, according to the Federal Highway Administration, which cites a 90 percent reduction in traffic fatalities, 76 percent fewer injuries and 35 percent fewer crashes.
Yield signs are posted at the approaches. The circle forces motorists to slow down. Motorists can exit out of the circle onto Three Rivers, or head east or west on Airport.
Smith said traffic should move more quickly than in the past.
The roundabout is part of a $3 million construction project being completed by GT Development & Contracting of Pascagoula.
The work also included widening Three Rivers from three to five lanes from Creosote Road to Airport Road. Creosote Road was widened from three to five lanes from U.S. 49 to Three Rivers. Sidewalks also have been added.