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Tempe to put new spin on downtown-area intersection with roundabout

(Google Street View Photo)

PHOENIX – An intersection in the downtown Tempe area is getting a new look that might make your head spin.

The city said it will begin construction this month on its first roundabout at the confluence Rio Salado Parkway, Ash Avenue and First Street just west of Mill Avenue.

Circular intersections allow all traffic to pass through in a counterclockwise direction and are designed to improve flow and increase safety while reducing maintenance costs.

The Ash-Rio Salado intersection will be closed to all traffic, including bikes and pedestrians, from Jan. 20 until Feb. 27 for construction.

The new configuration will let traffic travel westbound on Rio Salado through Ash to First Street, providing another option in and out of downtown Tempe.

The only traffic signal left behind will be one to allow the future Tempe Streetcar to pass through from the Tempe Beach Park stop.

Scheduled to begin operations in 2021, the Tempe Streetcar will cover 3 miles along Rio Salado Parkway, Mill/Ash and Apache Boulevard with 14 stops and two connections to Valley Metro light rail.

The Ash-Rio Salado intersection will be Tempe’s first roundabout, but it won’t be the last.

The city has plans for similar transformations for the McKellips Road-College Avenue and Grove Parkway-Priest Drive intersections.

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