Friday, February 10, 2006

Aroused about Roundabouts

As lawmakers debate the necessity of raising taxes to the tune of $1 billion a year to fund more transportation improvements, the Road to Ruin project has been systematically exploring alternatives to Business As Usual road-building practices. In his latest article, reporter Bob Burke explores the roundabout option.

In the right locations, roundabouts, like those you may have seen in England, Australia or continental Europe, can move up to 50,000 vehicles a day through an intersection. They're cheaper to maintain than traffic signals, and they're safer. They're just beginning to catch on in Virginia, and they may have broad applicability -- especially in green-field development where they can be built from scratch.

Needless to say, roundabouts are not a single-shot solution to the Commonwealth's traffic woes. But they're part of a solution. Combine roundabouts with a dozen other solutions -- better land use planning, outsourcing maintenance, tele-work, HOT lanes and congestion pricing, traffic light sequencing, and many others we've explored in this blog -- and a tax hike may not be needed.

I can only wonder why our lawmakers aren't devoting more energy to identifying creative solutions like these than devising ways to raise our taxes.


At 1:33 PM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

We used to use roundabouts, but we got away from them for some reason, now, why was that?

All of the suggestion you make have some validity and should be incorporated where they make sense. After 20 years of inaction and obfuscation of the issues, I find it hard to believe that all those ideas taken together can amount to much more than a slight reduction in the job to be done.

We agree it is not $2 billion, for reasons we have discussed, and it might even be less than $1 billion, but the currently discussed figure of $300 million is much too low. That figure is a joke.

At 7:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a useful discussion in the midst of a griant political battle over billions in transportation funding -- somewhat a akin to lying on Omaha Beach on that June morning and discussing the birds....

At 9:44 AM, Blogger Lucy Jones said...

I see Policy Soup has links to the "other" plan for transportation... Did I miss the debate on the plans? I don't know much about transportation/land use and all that but it is interesting to hear everyone's input and I'm learning a lot here. Have you guys already commented and I missed it?

At 6:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a fine idea Jim, and well worth implementing in slected spots.

Now, will Bacon's Rebellion be donating the cost of installing them?

That's a fairly important part of implementation I would think.

At 10:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing about roundabouts is that like merges on the freeway, they depend on co-operation. Consequently as long as traffic is moving they work OK.

But once the tipping point is reached they fail completely and you are no better off than if you had an intersection with no light: you are totally dependent on co-operation to get through.

At least with a light, you know it is your turn to go: if someone hits you it is his fault. But in a rotary the situation breaks down, eve though supposedly one party has the right of way.

At 10:41 AM, Blogger Toomanytaxes said...

Just a factoid from Fairfax County. A roundabout was proposed for downtown McLean (Chain Bridge Road and Old Dominion Drive) in the late 90s or early 2000. The estimated cost was around $2 million.


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