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Thu, Oct. 17

Roundabouts work, but require a learning curve

Billy Preston's 1970s hit "Will It Go Round in Circles" would have provided excellent accompaniment for this week's Prescott City Council meeting when a proposal for six new roundabouts took center stage.

City staff members, on the heels of what they call the success of the nearly year-old roundabout at Willow Lake Road and Highway 89, have proposed six new roundabouts on various key traffic arteries.

Roundabout locations under consideration include:

• Highway 89 at Ruger Road.

• Highway 89 at the future Side Road Connector just south of 89 and 89A.

• Highway 89A at the Side Road Interchange.

• Prescott Lakes Parkway and the Sundog Connector.

• Prescott Lakes Parkway at Sundog Ranch Road.

• Willow Creek Road at the Park West Shopping Center.

Roundabouts seem to function the way a wise man once described little girls: When they're good, they're wonderful, but when they're bad, they're horrid.

Proponents think they're wonderful. Arizona Department of Transportation officials said of the Highway 89-Willow Lake Road roundabout, "Obviously, it's been moving traffic, and we're not having delays," adding that, "we're not having injury accidents."

The operative word may be "injury accidents." Local observers have noted a fair number of fender-benders and minor bumps at that intersection.

Councilwoman Mary Ann Suttles says she continues to get many complaints about roundabouts.

Roundabouts clearly require a learning curve and proponents might hasten that with better signs leading to the intersections. Drivers unfamiliar with roundabouts are used to yielding to the right. Cars entering roundabouts must yield to traffic coming from the left.

We are not to the end of the road with roundabouts, but it's proving to be a more-than-interesting trip.

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