Roundabout roundup

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

When Cape Girardeau got its first roundabout a few years ago, many motorists expressed their concerns. City engineers soon conceded that the design of the roundabout, at Gordonville Road and Silver Springs Road, needed to be tweaked, and changes were made. After that, most of the carping about the roundabout died down -- until, that is, a couple of weeks ago when city crews again started making changes in the roundabout.

While the roundabout concept for intersections is relatively new to Cape Girardeau, they have been around for a long time. Europeans have roundabouts at big and small intersections. Some involve half a dozen highways coming together at one huge traffic circle. In New England, roundabouts are used on residential streets as well as major thoroughfares.

Why so many roundabouts around the world? Because they work.

Let's review: A properly designed roundabout keeps traffic moving through intersections. Vehicles must slow down and yield to any other vehicles already in a roundabout, but otherwise traffic keeps moving instead of coming to a full stop at a sign or signal. Most motorists, once they've gotten the hang of a roundabout, appreciate the convenience.

While the Cape Girardeau roundabout has been the brunt of criticism and jokes, it also has taught us all some good lessons. One is that we can learn new driving habits. Another is that a roundabout is better than stop signs or signals. Perhaps the biggest lesson of all is that roundabouts need to be designed properly when they are built. If other roundabouts are planned either by cities in our area or the state highway department, let's make sure they're constructed the way the should be from the start.

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