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Posted: December 10, 2010 12:30 a.m.

Drivers warming to roundabout

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If Facebook postings are any indication, the traffic roundabout at Turner Lake Road and Clark Street is gaining acceptance from Newton County drivers after its first week.

"I drive it several times a day in a bus, and it has been great! Newton County needs to look into putting one at the Porterdale intersection, instead of the two lights they have been talking about," Donna Lee Brown posted on The Covington News Facebook page.

Several others readers said they liked it, but were annoyed, because some drivers were automatically stopping when entering instead of yielding while others were not using their right turn signal to show they were exiting. Others commented that they still feel the roundabout is unnecessary and a waste of money.

 

The roundabout opened on Nov. 30, and it remains accident free. Initial posters were mostly skeptical.

The shift in opinions mirrors the results of a study conducted in part by Kansas State University Civil Engineering Professor Gene Russell, an expert on roundabouts. Drivers were surveyed in three communities where single-lane roundabouts replaced stop signs or traffic signals. Before construction, 36 percent of drivers supported it, compared with a 50 percent support level shortly after opening. Follow-up surveys conducted in these and other communities after roundabouts had been in place for more than a year found the level of public support increased to about 70 percent on average.

Covington Transportation Manager Billy Skinner said last week that the installation of 300-foot turn lanes and remodeling of the intersection would have cost about $1.5 million, according to a 2004 study by engineering firm URS. The roundabout cost $775,622, including a pedestrian tunnel to Turner Lake Park. Federal stimulus money paid for the project.

Skinner has been out to watch drivers use the roundabout during several different times of day and said it is working as designed.

"I echo the comments that people need to learn how to use it. I love a roundabout when it is used correctly, it keeps traffic moving," posted Sherri Cummings. "My main gripe is people stopping in the roundabout. That completely defeats the purpose."

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