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Editorial: Public sees no benefit in proposed roundabout

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ALTHOUGH statistics do appear to make a good case for the efficiency and safety of traffic roundabouts, there is still a significant body of opinion in Bartholomew County that equates them with the work of the devil.

That became painfully obvious to state Department of Transportation representatives Dec. 18 when they met with residents at an informational session at Clifty Creek Elementary School about a proposed traffic roundabout at County Road 400S and U.S. 31.

The information the state officials got from the session was that most of those present thought it was a bad idea. About 40 people attended the meeting, and of the 10 who voiced an opinion, only one was in favor of the project.

The state officials contend that roundabouts are safer than most traditional intersection alignments, virtually eliminating head-on collisions or T-bone crashes and reducing most accidents to low-speed sideswipes.

However, in this area especially, roundabouts have acquired a bad reputation which is proving difficult to shake.

Even though it’s been in use since 2008, the city of Columbus’ lone roundabout continues to be the subject of disparaging remarks from both motorists and non-motorists alike. Its image was certainly not helped when a “tweaking” was required in 2011 to ease traffic congestion created in great part by motorists who were uncertain how to drive on a roundabout.

A number of those who spoke at the Clifty Creek meeting voiced familiar concerns that roundabouts at best are a luxury item and should give way to other priorities such as repairing roads and bridges.

While the contrary opinions voiced at the Clifty Creek meeting by members of the public and state officials are unlikely to change many minds, the significant opposition to the project needs to be taken into account, not only at the Department of Transportation but in state executive offices.

Many of those who spoke at the meeting live in the area and in that respect, they have a definite stake in how the intersection is configured.

Absent any indication that there is any significant support for the project from the rest of the residents in the area, state officials would be wise to not return to the drafting board but instead deposit the plans in a file drawer that’s unlikely to be opened in the near future.

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