Archive for Thursday, October 6, 2005

Trailer-toting drivers irked by roundabout

City Hall hasn’t heard complaints

October 6, 2005


For Mark Davis, the black tire marks tell the story.

The fresh rubber scorches mar the curbs of the city's newest roundabout at Clinton Parkway and Lake Point Drive.

Davis, manager of the Clinton Lake Mini-Mart, said he's sure many of the marks were left by his customers who pull boats, camper trailers or drive large recreational vehicles.

"I don't hear anything good about it," Davis said.

Davis said he's struggling to understand why the city put a roundabout on a street that is a prime route to Clinton Lake and will have a much larger percentage of trailer-toting motorists.

Megan Hiebert, owner of the Clinton Lake Marina, said she's hearing many of the same concerns from her customers.

"It will be difficult to get the longer trailers through there," Hiebert said. "It seems like the city's traffic calming device is stirring a lot of people up."

But city officials said the roundabout, which opened late last month, hasn't been generating complaints at City Hall. In fact, Chuck Soules, the city's director of Public Works, said he has heard from some people who appreciate that the roundabout is significantly larger than previous roundabouts built in the city.

A 55-foot semitrailer maneuvers a roundabout on Clinton Parkway near the Clinton Lake entrance off Kansas Highway 10. Drivers of recreational vehicles and those pulling trailers complain that the new roundabout is difficult for them to go around.

A 55-foot semitrailer maneuvers a roundabout on Clinton Parkway near the Clinton Lake entrance off Kansas Highway 10. Drivers of recreational vehicles and those pulling trailers complain that the new roundabout is difficult for them to go around.

"We feel like we have sufficient room out there where people can feel comfortable navigating it," Soules said. "I think that roundabout could go a long ways in helping people accept roundabouts in general."

Davis said he's been getting an "earful," and he said it is not just because people don't like slowing down, though he admitted that was part of it. Davis said many people have concerns about their boats or trailers being damaged when they drop off a curb.

"You don't want the fender of a boat trailer dragging over something like that," Davis said. "A lot of those boats are pretty expensive."

Soules, though, said the roundabout was designed with trailers in mind. The roundabout has a truck apron designed to be driven on by vehicles that need extra room to navigate. Soules said even though the roundabout is only marked for one lane of traffic, with the apron it actually was as wide as two lanes.

Not everyone is seeing a problem. Chad Price, a manager with Preferred Lawn Service and Landscaping, said he drives through the roundabout every day - often pulling a trailer - to get to his office near the entrance of the Clinton Lake State Park.

"It's not a real big deal," Price said. "It does what it was supposed to do - slow people down. That's probably a good thing."

Clinton Parkway and Lake Point Drive

Soules said the roundabout was needed because the area will experience more traffic because of new development along Lake Point Drive. The area is expected to have about five acres of commercial space and about 400 new dwellings that will include a mix of apartments, townhomes and single-family homes.

Developers in the area paid for the entire $421,000 cost for the roundabout - city officials have said that a roundabout typically costs between $56,000 and $328,000, depending on the location and specific needs.Soules said city officials did not consider asking developers to build a "dual-lane roundabout" that would have allowed two lanes of traffic to travel through the device at the same time.

Soules said the roundabout was designed to handle all the traffic the city foresees for the area. He also said he wasn't sure how drivers would have responded to a dual-lane roundabout, which would have been the first in the city.

"We first need to make sure that everyone is on board with the single-lane roundabouts and knows how to use them before we move onto the dual-lane roundabouts," Soules said.

Hiebert said she's worried that city officials may find the roundabout is undersized on certain busy weekends at the lake.

"Imagine what it will look like during Wakarusa Fest," Hiebert said.


l_eustacy 12 years, 7 months ago

The roundabouts in Lawrence are the worst I've ever seen. Drive Harvard from Monterey Way to Waukarusa.
No intelligent person could defend those roundabouts period. Now get a clue mcoan.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 7 months ago

My work set up is aprproximately 26' long and I have no problem. It's mind over matter. Slow down and navigation is no problem. Seriously... navigating a round a bout is not rocket science.

If you go into them thinking they are beyond your ability it is likely to be a problem. Round a bouts are far less expensive than hiring more and more police officers plus equipment in order to slow traffic. For those who believe that growth is ecstacy this is one one of the costs of growth. These keep traffic moving at a much more acceptable pace than do traffic lights or stop signs. Idling cars use more gas than does a vehicle in perpetual motion.

rtwngr 12 years, 7 months ago

If the city waited until Lake Point is fully developed to address the problem of traffic that would be poor planning. Slow down and there is no problem.

neopolss 12 years, 7 months ago

At this point a traffic light is the better option, especially when a roundabout is 4x the cost. Don't believe that crap out $56,000 for one. Some have cost close to one million. That's a pitiful waste of tax dollars. I'd rather wait at a stop light and use the money to repair potholes, widen streets, and create new lanes for turning.

gccs14r 12 years, 7 months ago

I've been through there. It's ridiculous, but then I think all roundabouts are ridiculous. That intersection would have been well served with one STOP sign on the side street.

The current Commission was elected to keep Wal-Mart from building a second unit. All this other stuff is just p*ssing people off. The only other thing they've done that I like is the smoking ban. What they're going to end up doing is angering enough people that they lose the next election to a bunch of Comptonites who will build the Wal-Mart, repeal the smoking and cell phone bans, and spend a gazillion dollars ripping out the traffic calming devices. All the time and money expended will have been for naught, when all they had to do was quit while they were ahead. They could have been fixing potholes instead of screwing up traffic, but instead we're going into Winter with a full complement of tire eaters. Spring oughta be fun, 'cause our roads will probably look like moonscapes by then.

junco_partner 12 years, 7 months ago

QUOTE from article "Soules said the roundabout was designed to handle all the traffic the city foresees for the area."

Hmmm - just like the foresite the city had with the housing growth rate that has the sewer system operating at full capacity in 2005 instead of 2010 like projected.

jayandshan 12 years, 7 months ago

Just a thought to "neopolss" ... You might want to actually read the entire article before posting a comment. The story clearly states that the entire cost of the roundabout was paid for by developers in the area. Meaning ... your tax dollars didn't pay for a thing. If the local developers want to invest in our community and pay for necessary improvements, why complain? Speeders in Lawrence are out of control. We need all the help we can get.

Curtis Lange 12 years, 7 months ago

That roundabout is good sized. If a person cant get through that pulling a boat, they need to learn how to drive. The semi in the picture isnt having a problem, so a truck with boat/other trailer shouldnt either.

qeely50 12 years, 7 months ago

Stop signs and signals do not eliminate the chance of high speed crashes. (people run red lights) This intersection is at the top of a hill with poor sight distance & it ties into a high speed roadway. This roundabout will eliminate the potential 55 mph t-bone crashes that would occur at this location when it is developed. This will eliminate injury accidents which would likely occur at this location.

Also this project was paid for by the developer so the money could not be used at other locations in Lawrence.

And you can see how well traffic flows down 31st street with 4-way stops...waiting in traffic. Your delay at these intersections would probably be similar with signals on this road (sometimes green & sometimes waiting 1 minute a red light.) I would guarantee a couple of roundabouts would work great on this route to move traffic through the intersections quicker. But the loud couple of people that complain about roundabouts (and everything else) would probably have a fit about that suggestion.

mcoan 12 years, 7 months ago

There is NOTHING wrong with this city! They have some foresight, unlike most of the towns in the State of Rednecks. (The state DOT very much supports roundabouts, by the way.)

So it's time to refresh the FACTS about Roundabouts:

1.) They save lives because people have to slow down and can't "run" a stop sign or red light. This has been shown in numerous studies nationwide. 2.) If properly designed, they are DESIGNED to handle trucks with trailers (and pedestrians). What, you think engineers are just idiots who don't think about such things? I don't know if the City used the "official" roundabout design software or not, or hired a roundabout expert to design its, but that fact that the picture shows a semi trailer moving around it probably means it's not a problem for boaters...they just don't want to slow down to the 15mph typical of roundabouts. 3.) They save fuel because people don't have to stop in many cases and don't have to wait for the light to change. 4.) They improve traffic flow, even as they slow it down.

This stuff is OLD NEWS: roudabouts have been tested and studied worldwide for years, and the above conclusions come up over and over again. There's no arguing with science, folks.

Roundabouts have been spreading like wildfire because traffic engineers in American could no longer ignore the obvious benefits to traffic flow and society. When they attend professional conferences, they hear about how great roundabouts are working elsewhere and then try them in their home communities. So you'd better get used to them...

Personally, once I learned the rules and how to drive in them, I loved them. I rarely see an intersection governed by a 4-way stop that wouldn't work better as a roundabout. And a great, great many of the low-volume traffic signal interesections would also work better as roundabouts.

GET A LIFE AND GET OVER IT, folks. They are here to stay because they are better.

Janet Lowther 12 years, 7 months ago

"Traffic calming device." Call 'em what they really are: Traffic hazards.

hottruckinmama 12 years, 7 months ago

mcoan..they may be designed for trucks with trailers..but you just try getting one of them around the damn thing. let me guess-i bet you work for kdot?

spikey_mcmarbles 12 years, 7 months ago

I've seen the roundabout software, and it's very cool. You basically design your roundabout to kdot, city, or federal specs, then select what kind of vehicle you want to run thru it, and at what speed you want. The model will tell you whether or not the vehicle you selected sucessfully made it thru, and if it doesn't, it tells you where the problem areas are.

I've seen the roundabout designers in action, and I can tell you that they spend massive amounts of time and money making sure that it works like it's supposed to.

Linda Aikins 12 years, 7 months ago

gccs41r - leave my pal Doug alone, 'K?

The roundabutt in the middle of Clinton Parkway right now is just silly. But I too can't stand them.

Have you drive across Harvard Road between Monterey Way and Wakarusa lately? It's abhorrent. Simply awful. Ridiculous. Speed "humps" and roundabutts everywhere.

Have a nice day! ;P

shortstack 12 years, 7 months ago

how's about we put roundabouts in every major intersection! then, there wouldn't be any reason for stoplights at all, just one continuous flow of traffic, it'd be just like europe! the thing is, it seems as though the average lawrence driver knows not how to navigate through a roundabout, or a four way stop for that matter, i've seen it on many occasions. its sad really, so lets build more roundabouts and any other traffic obstruction and make obstacle courses everywhere there's all those speedin' problems. we could even have ramps that launch you over a pool of alligators or something. ooooohhhh and fountains, we need more fountains! roundabouts WITH fountains, theres an idea...

Curtis Lange 12 years, 7 months ago

Wow. Some of you, not only with this story today, are so ignorant to the facts of driver safety it's not even funny.

This is one of the few roundabouts that were designed well in the city. People still feel the need to bash it though. Sad.

Todd 12 years, 7 months ago

Why can't drivers learn? Seriously, they learned how to drive in the first place, why can't they learn to drive a round-a-bout? People get into "accidents" no matter what, I don't think the traffic calming circles are death traps. Fear of other's smackin' into you will slow you down and that's all for the best.

wonderhorse 12 years, 7 months ago

i don't think it's a matter of "can't learn". i think it's a matter of "why spend the money?" if stop signs don't work with "Fear of other's smackin' into you", why will this option?

dlstrohm 12 years, 7 months ago

The question isn't if roundabouts work or whether they are better, but rather if they are necessary. What is the city's logic? Too many speeding cars, mostly in residential areas. Ok, I can agree with slowing that down. But those speeders are not people that live in those areas...they are people trying to get across this town in less than a half hour. We have construction shutting down major roads that were already causing poor traffic flow and idiotic traffic light timing. If the main roads in town were designed as they should be, speeders wouldn't be in residential areas as they would have a faster route.

The city is reacting to one problem by creating another. Quit trying to slow traffic down and instead create a traffic system that serves its inherent purpose - to get from one place to another efficiently. Fact is this city's traffic, given its population, is enough to frustrate any rational driver. Safety is fine, but that doesn't mean it can't be done without dropping this city's traffic flow to a crawl and at a far lesser cost, no matter who is footing the bill.

Aiko 12 years, 7 months ago

Jayandshan stated: "Speeders in Lawrence are out of control. We need all the help we can get."

You should not attempt to police other drivers and to say "out of control" is a bit dramatic don't you think?

Shardwurm 12 years, 7 months ago

Adapt and overcome or be run over by progress.

Didn t you guys get taught evolution?

akuna 12 years, 7 months ago

I love the roundabouts. Keep up the good work city commissioners.

james bush 12 years, 7 months ago

Roundabouts are being hyped----------avoid them if you can.

LeAnne Stowe 12 years, 7 months ago

We drive this all the time on our commute from KC to Topeka. Last week we couldn't believe it when we crested the hill and saw the man-made landmark to stupidity right there. Of course roundabouts work -- IN SOME PLACES. This is NOT one of them.

It's sort of funny bad, actually. The city will pay eventually, in lawsuits.

lunacydetector 12 years, 7 months ago

....of course city hall hasn't heard any complaints. who wants to complain out of fear of retribution. it happens.

city hall doesn't want to hear a legitimate b*tch. they want to hear complaints that will justify spending more money. anyway, the city didn't pay for this roundabout only required an evil developer to put it in. who would pick up the tab to change this worthless roundabout? the evil developer, of course.

lawrence kansas, business unfriendly -as usual.

bearded_gnome 12 years, 7 months ago

anybody know, do roundabouts make these intersections 'less safe for pedestrians?' seems that way to me...our pedestrian friendly city....hmmm

Lowell Holmes 12 years, 7 months ago

FYI - those stupid little things on Harvard Rd are not technically "roundabouts" but "traffic circles".

Curtis Lange 12 years, 7 months ago

beardedlady: No, roundabouts do not make the intersections less safe for pedestrians. Right of way is the foundation of the roundabout and pedestrians STILL have the right of way crossing the street at the crosswalks before you enter the roundabout. So people either entering or exiting the roundabout must stop for a pedestrian waiting to cross, just as they would at a 4-way stop or any other crosswalk in the city.

lunacydetector 12 years, 7 months ago

the sad thing......years ago clinton pkwy used to be 4 lanes with a dividing island all the way to the clinton lake dam road.

when the SLT was partially built (it was to be 4 lanes from I-70 to K-10 east of town, but the lawsuit expenses eventually turned the SLT into a 2 lane road that ends at Iowa Street) they took out the 4 lane part of clinton pkwy (from the new roundabout location) and condensed the road into 2 lanes.

if clinton pkwy stayed 4 lanes from the start, the lawsuits didn't shrink it and the eventual SLT, there wouldn't be complaints. but alas, we have a dysfuntional roundabout, a head on collission causing two lane road on clinton pkwy AND the SLT, just because some people wanted to save a frog someone claimed to have seen in some swamp land 8 miles east...

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 7 months ago

The decision to build the existing stretch of the SLT with only two lanes had absolutely to do with lawsuits.

But feel free to spread that bit of lunacy if it makes you feel good.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 7 months ago


I meant to say that lawsuits had absolutely to do with a two-lane SLT.

bearded_gnome 12 years, 7 months ago

Kuweatherdude, I was in a hurry, and later realized your answer was a "motor vehicle code" answer; I'm looking for a more practical/functional answer to the question.
according to what you site, a moving driver has to 'see' pedestrian in order to stop for pedestrian. in an ordinary intersection, pedestrian crosses when cross-traffic is already stopped.

I also worry about visibility, especially for kids, and the fact that the drivers are often distracted, i.e. talking on cell phones, putting on makeup etc.

so, I do worry that roundabouts are not as safe as traditional intersections for walkers.

also, the question of 'when to step out' and start crossing seems more complex with the roundabout, though the oncoming circling traffic is 'supposed' to stop then.

and, KUfeatherman, if you do not know what a gnome is, there are still useful dictionaries at watson library, look somewhere between "gnat" and "gnu."

the travelocity gnome-wheenie is a very bad example.

Curtis Lange 12 years, 7 months ago

oops, sorry about screwing your name up. Musta been loking at your name and someone else's when I was typing.

Even at the traditional crosswalk you're talking about, there is a chance of accident due to people not yielding as they're turning right on red. Crosswalks at roundabouts would probably fall into the safety category of crosswalks mid-block or between two intersections IMO. The matter of when to step out into the crosswalk is a simple one. The pedestrian simply starts walking unless of course there is an automobile so close that they wouldnt have time to stop.

At roundabout crosswalks, this isnt that big a problem since a pedestrian only has to cross one lane of traffic at a time since there is a pedestrian island between the lanes of traffic. So when the pedestrian reaches the roundabout they simply walk out onto the crosswalk, unless there is a car starting to make the turn out of the roundabout already.

One of my biggest pet peeves are pedestrians that just wait and wait to cross at crosswalks until all cars have gone by. The cars are the ones that should be stopping for that pedestrian, not the other way around. And the cars wont stop until the pedestrian starts crossing. You can see this a lot on campus and on Mass. St.

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