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IDOT considering roundabout for Veterans and Sunset

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By The Staff

The Illinois Department of Transportation is studying the feasibility of a traffic roundabout at Veterans Avenue and Sunset Drive, city officials reported last week. Traffic often gets clogged at the intersection, Mayor Rick Gottman said. “It could make it more flowable,” he said. “[IDOT] has to do a lot of surveying, studies, public hearings. The idea is very much in the infancy stage now.” The circular road junction – popularized in Europe – is designed to slow traffic and redirect drivers in a one-way stream around a central island. “That sounds scary,” Alderman Chad Feldpouch said, upon hearing the proposal at last Monday’s city council meeting. But studies show roundabouts are safer for drivers and pedestrians than traditional intersections. One study sampled roundabouts in the United States and found 40 percent fewer vehicle collisions, 80 percent fewer injuries, and 90 percent fewer serious injuries and fatalities compared to cross-traffic intersections. “When the city approached IDOT about assistance with the intersection at Sunset and Veterans, IDOT pitched the idea of the roundabout and told us they intend to perform a feasibility study in the future,” City Administrator Jimmy Morani told The Leader-Union. A spokesperson with the Illinois Department of Transportation District 7 in Effingham confirmed the agency was in the preliminary planning stages of a traffic roundabout, but offered few details. “Modern roundabouts are definitely becoming more prevalent around the country,” said Rob Macklin, a spokesperson for IDOT. “Illinois has been much slower to embrace the concept than several other states.” About 1,000 roundabouts have been constructed in the U.S., according to IDOT reports. Macklin said a roundabout constructed a few years ago in Highland, about 40 miles west of Vandalia, operates well. “I’ve seen a couple and been through a couple,” Gottman said, without endorsing or rejecting any proposal for a roundabout. “We just need to look at it because of the flow of traffic out there.” Semis and larger vehicles should not have problems navigating roundabouts, Gottman said. The roundabout isn’t a project that will “happen overnight,” he said. An online poll conducted by the Leader-Union on the newspaper’s Web site last week showed about 70 percent of readers don’t favor a roundabout at the intersection of Veterans Avenue and Sunset Drive. About 19 percent favored a roundabout. More than 10 percent said they don’t know what a roundabout is. About 75 readers had participated in the survey as of Monday. You can vote in the poll online at www.leaderunion.com