Originally Published: May 26, 2008 7:28 p.m.
"Roundabouts are a useful tool to slow down traffic and make drivers pay better attention," while true, it's not the only issue with roundabouts. We're all creatures of habit, and as such any "change" can be uncomfortable, but to say "No one likes change,..." is not true for everyone regardless of age.
You argue for roundabouts. But how about those who use Happy Valley Road in Phoenix at Interstate 17, which has produced very mixed reviews by drivers.
Regarding Scott Richie's recommendation of six new roundabouts, it shouldn't be surprising when noting the name of his firm. How would any firm with "roundabouts" in its name recommend otherwise?
You mention two alternatives at intersections: Roundabouts vs. Signalization, citing roundabouts cost more (capital expense) than signalization but operating costs are less, presuming a future "payoff" favoring roundabouts. Let me comment plus present another alternative for major intersections.
ADOT is already planning to increase capital cost on the existing 89 roundabout by "increase(ing) the diameter" to more appropriately (safely?) accommodate 18-wheelers traversing this intersection. There could well be further expense when traffic volumes warrant adding more lanes to a roundabout?
You argue that roundabouts improve fuel economy while everyone using them must slow then accelerate to/from roundabouts. True, stopped and idling vehicles burn more petrol, but mandated Fed-listing of miles-per-gallon ratings indicate lower "city" ratings less efficient than "highway" driving at more consistent driving speeds.
There's a third alternative at major intersections: "Grade Separation" using over/underpasses. As at the intersections of highways 69 and 89, and at 89 and 89A in Prescott, both improve safety and traffic capacities.
True, "Nothing can take the place of responsible drivers who pay attention ... and obey traffic laws." But also "as our area grows and motorists demand more of our road system," I'm not convinced that roundabouts - looking at the experience of other now larger cities and areas which have by-passed (either under or over) roundabouts - to safely handle increasing traffic. And that can be a major future expense.
Jack Stanton, P.E.,