Roundabouts are a waste

Published: Monday, January 16, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 15, 2006 at 11:05 p.m.
The series of nine roundabouts proposed for Tower Road will certainly ease the present congestion on that heavily traveled street, but only because large numbers of drivers will go miles out of their way to avoid such a gauntlet of anxiety and fear.
The term "congestion" simply means having too many automobiles on a certain mileage of roadway. How do you ease the problem? You either four-lane the street to increase roadway or you get traffic moving faster. Roundabouts will certainly accomplish the "faster" part of the equation, but at what cost?
Since everything is done on the cheap, these roundabouts will be small. After all, having a central green space large enough so that drivers can properly time their entrance into the roundabout will cost more in grading, limerock and pavement. There's also the possible issue of having to pay for private property that might intrude into a larger circle. A small circle with a yield sign is just a blip in the road for drivers who have never learned what a turn signal is for.
During heavy congestion, north- and south-bound traffic will hog the lanes, not letting anyone from the side streets into the solid flow. Accidents will increase. While they may be only fender benders, they will snarl traffic while participants wait for police and tow trucks to arrive.
Finally, if built, this altruistic experiment will eventually fail on its own, as west Gainesville continues to grow, and the roundabouts become totally overwhelmed. Eventually, funds will be found to pay for two more lanes on Tower Road, the roundabouts will be done away with and the traffic signals that have been removed will be reinstated at great cost.
Why not cut to the chase, saving money, headaches and high blood pressure?
Ray Harris, Gainesville

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