Update: The roundabout at the intersection of Turner Lake Road and Clark Street is open and is being used. Goergia Department of Transportation officials are in the process of closing Olc Clark Street.
Read the attached PDF for instructions on how to drive in the roundabout. For a detailed explanation of how to use a roundabout view this interactive graphic created by government of the Canadian region of Waterloo - region.waterloo.on.ca/web/region.nsf/roundabouts_how_to_use2.html. As a note, pedestrians will not frequently cross in front of traffic in Covington’s roundabout, because of the installation of a pedestrian underground tunnel.
Original Story: Roundabouts are increasing in popularity in the U.S., and studies show they reduce accidents and improve traffic flow compared to traditional intersections.
But as Covington's own roundabout at the intersection of Turner Lake Road and Clark Street prepares to open Tuesday at 10 a.m., many local residents are dreading the thought of navigating a circular intersection they and their community are unfamiliar with.
"It's going to be a disaster," several residents chime in, when the topic turns to the roundabout.
Whether they're unsure about how to use it themselves or simply lack faith in the ability of their fellow drivers, residents don't understand why Covington needs a roundabout. Wouldn't adding turn lanes to the busy intersection have been better? Transportation officials say no.
Roundabouts have been increasingly steadily in the states since the first roundabout was built in Nevada in 1991. Though no official count exists, there are around 2,300 in the U.S. according to roundaboutsusa.com.
Eugene Russell Sr., civil engineering professor at Kansas State University and roundabout expert, said much of the initial opposition to roundabouts stems from fear of the unknown and "irrational opposition" created by a lack of understanding or lack of faith of fellow drivers.
"What is there about roundabouts that confuse drivers? I don't think there should be anything once they understand how they operate," he said in an e-mail. "What is interesting to me and somewhat irritating is that most of the crashes in roundabouts, even though low-speed fender benders, would not occur if driver use the same sense they use anywhere else."
Studies, including one conducted in part by Russell, show that drivers become more accepting of roundabouts immediately after using them and over time come to support roundabouts. To prevent you from going in circles, the Covington News offers its guide to the single-lane roundabout.