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Roundabout project wins engineering award

 This roundabout replaced a dangerous intersection in the Maple High/Six Corners neighborhood.
Paul Tuthill
This roundabout replaced a dangerous intersection in the Maple High/Six Corners neighborhood.

The Six Corners made round

A roundabout project in Springfield, Massachusetts, that had its doubters when first proposed, has earned a prestigious award.

The roundabout in the Maple High/Six Corners neighborhood has been recognized by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts for its “unique and innovative” design.

A landmark -- and notoriously dangerous -- intersection where four streets converged at odd angles was replaced with the roundabout. The $4.2 million project was designed by the city’s Department of Public Works and Fuss & O’Neill, a Springfield-based engineering firm.

The new roundabout opened to traffic in the fall of 2020 and drew rave reviews.

“I really love it,” said Linda Bartlett. “I think it works great.”

Bartlett, who has lived in the neighborhood for 30 years, said she was skeptical when the idea of a roundabout to replace the Six Corners intersection was first brought up years ago at a community meeting.

“I just thought that is never going to work,” she said. “I’m so glad I was wrong.”

Chris Cignoli, the city’s DPW director, was a major proponent for building the roundabout.

“The light went on for me when somebody proposed it,” Cignoli said.

The new traffic configuration has alleviated congestion and should reduce the number of accidents that made the old Six Corners one of the city’s most dangerous intersections.

“Its absolutely safer here,” Cignoli said.

Cignoli said he is eying other places in the city where a roundabout might replace a troublesome traffic intersection.

Because roundabouts take up more space than a traditional intersection of streets, it can be difficult to fit in a dense urban area. To construct the Six Corners roundabout the city had to use eminent domain to acquire and tear down a gas station-convenience store and a house.

Roundabouts can be a plus for reducing tailpipe emissions that contribute to climate change because cars and trucks spend less time idling at red lights.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.