TMACOG’s long range transportation plan (the 2035 Plan) is full of carefully identified goals and policies that affect our region’s roads, bike paths, rails, and ports. In the Big Picture we will take a look at some of these overall policies and how they are being implemented.
Modern roundabouts have been used for many years in other parts of the country. Roundabouts are a type of traffic circle that significantly reduce the number, type, and the severity of accidents, are less expensive to maintain as compared to traditional signals, and increase traffic capacity. The 2035 Plan identifies the roundabout as a preferred alternative in many situations. Whether or not a roundabout is appropriate depends on site constraints including right-of-way, environmental factors, and other design considerations.
“Roundabouts are not a novelty,” said Ronald Myers, P.E., traffic operations engineer at the Lucas County Engineer’s Office. “They are a well-established strategy to improve capacity and safety.” Myers serves on several TMACOG transportation committees. He notes that putting up traffic lights actually increases accidents. “Signalized intersections - which provide access to side street traffic - are historically the most dangerous.” An intersection with four-way stop signs and turn lanes may improve safety (over a two-way stop) but delays traffic, causing backups, stops and starts, and increasing car emissions. A roundabout slows traffic but never stops it, and can provide up to a 90% reduction in fatalities and 76% reduction in injury crashes. Basically, a roundabout is a one-way, circular intersection without traffic equipment. Traffic moves in a continuous counter-clockwise flow, and all the turns are right-hand turns.
One modern roundabout is complete at King and Nebraska roads and one is under construction at Brint and Mitchaw in Sylvania Township. At the King and Nebraska site, initial plans called for adding turn lanes and signs. After a review, engineers determined that a roundabout would be a more efficient, safer alternative, and would keep traffic moving. The issue at Brint and Mitchaw was safety. Sporadic heavy traffic from events at Pacesetter Park and Centennial Quarry led to backups and many accidents. Safety funds through the State of Ohio are financing that new roundabout. The Lucas County Engineer’s Office expects to have it completed before school starts. Additional roundabouts are planned for King and Brint roads in Sylvania Township, and two are planned on Dutch Road in the Village of Waterville.