Let’s build a roundabout

Published 11:59 am Tuesday, June 6, 2017

We fully endorse and support the engineer-recommended concept of building a single-lane roundabout at the troubled intersection of Oak Street, High Street and Griffin Boulevard.

Out of the three alternatives — leaving the intersection as is, realigning the intersection or constructing a roundabout — the roundabout ranked highest in public comments in favor, level of service/operation, construction cost, life cycle cost and vehicular safety. Realigning the intersection ranked highest only for pedestrian safety, while the roundabout ranked second in this category. Leaving the intersection as is ranked third.

As we said in late February, there’s no doubt that leaving the traffic configuration unchanged at the intersection would be the wrong thing to do.

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The roundabout has been highly favored by nearly all who’ve submitted formal comments on the project to the firm and by those who’ve attended the two community meetings held by town leaders — whom we commend for such a transparent and community-involved process.

Factors included in McCormick Taylor’s recommendation include Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) policy, which details benefits regarding right of way, environmental factors, design constraints, safety, operation and life cycle cost.

We have no doubt that a roundabout will be safer for those driving and riding in vehicles, pedestrians and others who’ll use the intersection. Instead of waiting for the traffic signal to turn green or gunning the gas pedal to beat the light, the roundabout will allow a continuous flow of slow-moving traffic, resulting in fewer crashes and less wait time.

“You’ll actually be able to see the pedestrians a little bit better,” said William Winston, a senior traffic engineer with McCormick Taylor, answering a question from the audience regarding pedestrian safety during Wednesday’s community meeting.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, “roundabouts reduce the types of crashes where people are seriously hurt or killed by 78-82 percent when compared to conventional stop-controlled and signalized intersections … By reducing the number and severity of conflict points, and because of the lower speeds of vehicles moving through the intersection, roundabouts are a significantly safer type of intersection.”

And we’re not saying crashes won’t happen at the roundabout. The fact of the matter is drivers and pedestrians are more distracted — namely by cell phones — than they have ever been. Everyone needs to pay better attention when they’re driving, which will result in fewer crashes.

While it’ll prove for a substantial change, we think building a roundabout at the intersection will improve the quality of life for those who live and visit Farmville.