Round­abouts: They’re work­ing, Pen­nDOT says

The Morning Call - - LOCAL NEWS - By Tom Short­ell

How to nav­i­gate a round­about

Round­abouts are like veg­eta­bles. They’re good for you, even if you can’t stand them.

At least, that’s what Pen­nDOT is say­ing af­ter re­view­ing crash data at 19 lo­ca­tions that have been con­verted into round­abouts. Th­ese spots showed de­creases in fa­tal­i­ties (2 to 0), sus­pected se­ri­ous in­juries (10 to 1) and to­tal num­ber of accidents (138 to 91).

“We are glad to pro­mote the use of round­abouts through­out the com­mon­wealth,” Pen­nDOT Sec­re­tary Les­lie S. Richards said in a news re­lease. “The facts speak for them­selves. Round­abouts save lives and re­duce crash sever­ity over stan­dard stop or sig­nal con­trolled in­ter­sec­tions.”

Along with the 19 in­cluded in the re­port, Pen­nDOT has built 29 other round­abouts and plans on con­struct­ing an­other 40. The other ex­ist­ing round­abouts were not in­cluded in the re­port be­cause they did not have three years of crash data ei­ther be­fore or af­ter their con­struc­tion. The clos­est Pen­nDOT round­abouts to the Le­high Val­ley — the Route 209 round­about in Mon­roe County and the Route 222 round­about in Berks County — were not in­cluded.

The pos­i­tive crash data has en­cour­aged Pen­nDOT to build more round­abouts. The first Pen­nDOT round­about in the Le­high Val­ley should be­gin con­struc­tion by early 2020 where Route 222, Route 863 and Schantz Road are clus­tered in Up­per Ma­cungie Town­ship. Pen­nDOT crash data in­di­cated there were 23 crashes be­tween the three in­ter­sec­tions last year.

Pen­nDOT isn’t look­ing to add round­abouts every­where. En­gi­neers need to con­sider to­pog­ra­phy, ve­hi­cle ca­pac­ity and other nearby in­ter­sec­tions when con­sid­er­ing if a round­about is a good fit.

Pen­nDOT spokes­woman Jan Huz­var ac­knowl­edged that round­abouts are not al­ways pop­u­lar. When Pen­nDOT posted round­about in­for­ma­tion on its Face­book page this week, the com­ments seemed to be split down the mid­dle be­tween sup­port­ers and ob­jec­tors, she said.

“It’s a learn­ing curve, but once you get used to them, we tend not to hear com­plaints,” she said.

The Fed­eral High­way Ad­min­is­tra­tion praises them, say­ing they tend to im­prove traf­fic flow be­cause ve­hi­cles don’t need to stop at a red light or a stop sign. But while traf­fic doesn’t stop, it does tend to slow down, which de­creases the sever­ity of crashes and makes for safer con­di­tions for cy­clists and pedes­tri­ans.

Round­abouts also elim­i­nate left-hand turns, which the ex­perts say are dan­ger­ous be­cause they usu­ally re­quire ve­hi­cles to turn through lanes car­ry­ing on­com­ing traf­fic. Th­ese con­flict points, as en­gi­neers call them, cre­ate higher risks of accidents.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.