In Transit: Readers don't see straight on roundabout issue

  • The Des Plaines traffic circle has a design that confounds some readers. Others can't get enough of roundabouts.

      The Des Plaines traffic circle has a design that confounds some readers. Others can't get enough of roundabouts. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • One reader suggests a minimum circumference for all traffic circles. Des Plaines' Cumberland Circle is pictured here.

      One reader suggests a minimum circumference for all traffic circles. Des Plaines' Cumberland Circle is pictured here. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted5/22/2017 5:30 AM

As roundabouts sprout in the suburbs, drivers are taking sides after a recent column about engineering solutions to prevent crashes.

You can put Elgin's Josh Powell in the pro-roundabout camp. He says they alleviate traffic and "the old stop-and-go."

 

"Wisconsin has it right and uses them often. And, if it could be used at intersections where I would otherwise be waiting at a light for a minute or two even though there is no cross-traffic, that would be awesome!" Powell wrote.

"There is one in Hoffman Estates at Beacon Pointe and Essex Drive that I go through on occasion and even though it isn't a busy intersection by any measure, it makes me happy to see that there are engineers out there that are considering them."

But reader Jim Janik counters, "some roundabouts are good and some are terrible." He's no fan of ones in Sheboygan, where his in-laws live.

"When one approaches an entry point and there is a vehicle on the left, there is simply not enough time to determine if that vehicle is going to exit or continue. So you have to wait no matter what," Janik said.

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"The radius of the circle is just too small," he added. "From my experience, a roundabout needs some minimum circumference and needs some minimum distance between each exit point. We should consider having an Illinois law that a community can veto a proposed roundabout on any highways in that community."

Booster Dan McFeely of Carmel, Indiana, wants Illinois to embrace roundabouts.

"We have built 102 roundabouts to date, the most of any city in America," said McFeely, Carmel's economic development director. " ... We have steadily added them to Carmel over the past 20 years. They work wonderfully. And yes, we've seen a steady decline in accidents with injury."

Business traveler Frank Kowalkowski of Grayslake thinks they work well "in low- to medium-traffic volumes where traffic is flowing smoothly and there are no backups or delays." In other areas, he's less of a fan.

"In higher traffic, the roundabouts become a barrier to good traffic flow. Dubai, for example, has traffic lights in some of their roundabouts to control traffic due to volume."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Wheeling driver Fran Bentley gets the last word. She thinks the design can "sometimes be a challenge," especially when it comes to the Cumberland Circle in Des Plaines. Bentley is also familiar with Florida roundabouts and the problems that occur with drivers who "choose to believe that they always have the right of way!"

Gridlock alert

Drivers headed west on I-90 near Marengo should watch for intermittent nighttime full road closures on the toll road at Route 23 next week. The Illinois tollway is installing steel beams as part of a Route 23 bridge rebuild. Some westbound lanes will be closed Wednesday and eastbound lanes Thursday.

Memorial Day forecast

The great American vacation season is upon us with 39.3 million people expected to take a trip 50 miles or more from home over the Memorial Day holiday, AAA estimates. That's the largest number since 2005. And in Illinois, that means 1.8 million travelers jumping into their cars, SUVS or trucks this summer, a 1.9 percent increase from last year.

One more thing

Pace's Bus on Shoulder movement is growing. After Pace express buses gained the ability to hop on the I-55 shoulder lane during rush-hour traffic jams, ridership grew. The program is coming to I-90 and most recently the Edens Expressway, IDOT announced. The state has begun improvements to the Edens shoulder lanes between Foster Avenue and Lake-Cook Road to accommodate Pace Routes 626 and 620. Work on the $7 million project will take place mostly at night.

What triggers shoulder power? Speeds must drop below 35 mph.

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