Hemel Hempstead’s notorious Magic Roundabout has been given an atmospheric facelift which, it is hoped, will help confused drivers navigate their way around it.
The famous Plough roundabout linking the town centre with routes to Apsley, Boxmoor and the M1 and A414 is celebrating its 40th birthday not with candles, but with more than 200 LED lightbulbs.
The bright idea by Dacorum Borough Council aims to highlight the most familiar gateway into the town as well as enhance the night-time atmosphere of the area, for visitors on foot as well as those driving through.
Council leader Andrew Williams said: “The Magic Roundabout turned 40 this year and is one of the most iconic features of Hemel Hempstead.
“It is amazing how much ambience you can create, on what is essentially a traffic management system, simply by adding soft ambient lighting.”
Constructed in 1973 to combat congestion in the town, the roundabout is probably the feature for which the town is best known to the nation at large – even contributing to Hemel Hempstead’s ‘Ugliest Town’ online poll win earlier in the year.
The makeover – part of the borough council’s wider Hemel Evolution improvement programme – was unveiled for the first time on Friday evening as the sun set.
The lights will be on each day from dusk until dawn.
At a cost of £20,000, the work came in almost £10,000 under the borough’s original budget. This paid for the lighting design and all associated installation.
According to the council, the LED lights being used in the new display are more energy efficient than other bulbs and will have low running costs, although a meter has been installed to measure this.
Solar panels were also considered as part of the design, but were not deemed cost effective.
The lights used have also been assessed for driver safety according to brightness and whether they are pointing in the right directions.
It is even hoped the different coloured sections – designed with the different types of trees in mind – will become a useful navigation aid for the thousands of motorists befuddled by its complex structure of six mini roundabouts dotted around a larger central one.
As well as a variety of colours, a timer system installed as part of the works will create a subtle changing effect so that each journey around the motoring maze will be totally unique.