ROTTERDAM: DOT touts circles

Department of Transportation officials discussed the benefits of roundabouts at a public information meeting at the Rotterdam Senior Center Thursday, June 7.

The state Department of Transportation is proposing a roundabout for the intersection of Curry and Carman roads and Hamburg Street.

DOT engineer Richard Schell said the intersection currently operates far below DOT guidelines during peak morning and evening hours, and typically there is a line of 100 cars on Curry Road waiting to get through the intersection.

Schell said the accident rate at the intersection is 177 times higher than that for similar intersections in the state.

Schell said a roundabout would be ideal for this intersection because it would slow down traffic, keep it moving, increase safety and beautify the area.

Schell said cars tend to speed up to catch yellow lights and speed through green lights. He said a roundabout would slow down traffic because every car that goes through it could only travel about 15 to 17 mph.

Every car that comes through the intersection has to slow down, Schell said.

Despite the slow rate of speed, roundabouts keep traffic moving, so delay times are short. Currently people wait at the intersection through four or five light rotations, which amounts to six to 11 minutes.

"Think of Henry Ford and the assembly line. When you keep things moving, work is more efficient," Schell said.

According to Schell, roundabouts are the safest intersection for all modes of transportation, including bicyclists and pedestrians, because vehicles are traveling slower and all are going in the same direction.

Schell pointed to studies that showed roundabouts reduced accidents by 80 percent and nearly eliminated fatalities because they eliminate head-on and T-bone collisions.

Schell said only 13 minor bicycle and pedestrian accidents have occurred in the 14,000 roundabouts throughout the country since 1993, and no severe accidents have occurred.

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