BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO
One of two large signs offering directions for drivers approaching the new roundabout on Route 58 in Riverhead.
The two-lane roundabout at the intersection of Route 58 and Roanoke Avenue was opened to traffic late Monday, almost eight months after Suffolk County started overhauling the busy thoroughfare.
The new roundabout is fitted with traffic markers as well as instructional signs at each of the four entrances, including two massive signs to the west and east of the site.
“There is, with these things, a little bit of driver reeducation,” said Mark Smith, a spokesman for Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy. “Adjustments are going to have to be made as people go through it the first time, the first couple times.
The $8 million widening project on Route 58, undertaken by the county Department of Public Works, began shortly after Labor Day last year and is expected to finish around Memorial Day.
“Just follow the directions on the signs and the pavement markings,” said Bill Hillman, the department’s chief engineer. He also explained why a roundabout is considered easier than traffic a circles, which was previously used at the site.
“It’s all about geometrics,” he said. “Essentially, a roundabout allows a driver waiting to enter a better opportunity to see whether a vehicle is continuing straight through the circle or going right through the circle. If I’m waiting, I can recognize that quicker because of the entry and exit angles of the vehicles.”