New York State Pushing Roundabouts - But It's Not Easy

<p>The safety benefits of modern roundabouts are beyond question, according to both New York State DOT and FHWA, so why is it so hard to convince a skeptical public? N.Y officials are undeterred as they pursue their 'modern' roundabout program.</p>
January 29, 2008, 9am PST | Irvin Dawid
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"Traffic circles have long been part of New York roadways, but modern roundabouts are distinctly different. Today's roundabouts are much smaller than older traffic circles - about 100 to 200 feet in diameter instead of 400 to 600 feet - and they're designed with narrow lanes that force drivers to slow down.

Transportation planners say the newer design - which originated in Europe and found its way to the United States around 1990 - results in improved traffic flow and fewer accidents.

"The No. 1 reason we're doing these is safety," said Howard McCulloch, a traffic engineer with the New York State Department of Transportation who specializes in roundabouts.

Roundabouts also tend to keep cars moving steadily in all directions. That cuts down on fuel-wasting stop-and-go traffic and reduces air pollution, giving planners another reason to use them, said Wade Scarbrough, a roundabout specialist with Kittelson & Associates, a transportation engineering and consulting firm in Portland, Ore.

The Federal Highway Administration - which oversees federal money spent on highway construction and maintenance - estimates 150 to 250 roundabouts are being built each year and supports a goal to raise that to roughly 1,000 per year, said Doug Hecox, an agency spokesman."

Thanks to Bay Area Transporation News

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Published on Sunday, January 20, 2008 in Associated Press via San Francisco Chronicle
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