The Woodstock area’s first roundabout has opened.

The intersection at Raffel and Charles roads in rural Woodstock began receiving traffic Sept. 1, shortly after workers completed construction on a roundabout there.

Work on the $2.2 million project from the McHenry County Division of Transportation started in May. Its opening was delayed a few weeks due to heavy rains throughout the summer.

Jeff Young, assistant county engineer for McDOT, said he expects the roundabout to improve safety at the intersection, which had been designated as one of the county’s most dangerous.

“The type of accidents and the severity of accidents will be dramatically reduced,” Young said. “That’s the point of a roundabout project. It’s about saving lives and eliminating those debilitating injuries.”

About 8,000 vehicles per day travel through the intersection on Charles Road, while Raffel Road sees about 2,000 vehicles daily at that location

, according to McDOT data. Many of those vehicles are likely to be driven by people who rarely encounter roundabouts — while they’re growing in popularity in the United States, there are few such intersections in this area. McDOT’s only other roundabout is in Johnsburg.

Young said drivers should remember a few key things when they approach a roundabout.

“The biggest thing for drivers [to know] is that it’s yield on entry. Those that are already circulating in the roundabout have the right-of-way,” he said.

After slowing and yielding to traffic on the left, drivers enter the roundabout by turning right and traveling counterclockwise, and then signaling when they want to exit. If an emergency vehicle is approaching the intersection with its lights on, drivers should proceed to their exit before pulling over. Cars need to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk and yield to cyclists, just as they would at a stop sign or stop light.

“At the end of the day, it is just another intersection,” Young said.

The intersection of Chapel Hill and Johnsburg roads in Johnsburg has had a roundabout since 2014. Claudett Peters, Johnsburg’s village administrator, said some residents were concerned about McDOT’s plans to install the roundabout, which was the first of its kind in McHenry County.

“Initially, when word hit the streets that the intersection was going to be improved with a roundabout, certainly, we heard some concerns,” Peters said. “But once it opened, it was so well-received by the community. There were several people who said, ‘I gotta tell you, it works great; there’s no backups; it’s easy to use.’”

Although the roundabout is open, some landscaping and other work will continue on the intersection until about mid-October, according to a press release from McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Frank’s office.

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