The safety factor when traveling on U.S. 281 and U.S. 50 has increased where those highways intersect in Stafford County three miles south of St. John. After months of work starting in 2019, a new $5.2 million roundabout is completed and traffic is flowing through this intersection that had a history of injury and fatal accidents.


The roundabout features an inner circle for regular traffic and a permanent detour outer diamond shape to accommodate oversize loads, said Scott Mullen, Kansas Department of Transportation area engineer.


The roundabout and diamond are designed to prevent the most severe accidents including t-bones and collisions at high speeds. Any collision at the intersection should be under 30 mph, Mullen said.


Tim Potter, KDOT public affairs manager, said roundabouts are used at intersections that have a significant history of crashes and where KDOT has taken steps to mitigate crashes but those efforts were not successful.


In this case, the intersection has a history of injury accidents, fatal accidents and damage to property accidents.


"There is a significant crash history over the years," Potter said.


With the roundabout, any crash would be a glancing blow or sideswipe as opposed to a t-bone or angle crash and at a lower speed.


A roundabout allows traffic to continue moving unless a driver has to yield to other drivers already in the roundabout. All drivers have to reduce speed to enter the roundabout.


Venture Corporation of Great Bend was the primary contractor for the project and there were 10 subcontractors.