Not everyone likes a ‘Hybrid’ roundabout at Woodbury DriveAlso known as County Road 19, the highway will have a roundabout intersecting with Baily Road as part of a construction project Washington County is undertaking in 2013.
By: Riham Feshir, Woodbury Bulletin
Some of the plans to reconstruct Woodbury Drive drew some criticism at an open house Thursday.
Also known as County Road 19, the highway will have a roundabout intersecting with Baily Road as part of a construction project Washington County is undertaking in 2013.
The City of Woodbury has partnered with the county on the plans that were presented at the Eagle Valley Golf Course last week.
Called a “hybrid” roundabout, the multi-lane structure allows for smooth traffic flow, according to county engineers.
It’ll have two lanes going east and west on Bailey Road and four going north and south on Woodbury Drive.
Plans also include a pedestrian crosswalk about one car length away from the roundabout.
That’s what worries Woodbury resident Greg Miller, who lives about a quarter mile away from the roundabout.
He’s not convinced that studies done by county engineers are accurately comparing existing roundabouts in other parts of the world to this proposed one.
The father of three children, all under the age of five, wonders if cars will yield for pedestrian traffic soon enough.
When cars enter the roundabout, they’re going a variety of speeds, he said.
“It doesn’t matter if you hit a kid going 20 or 50, they’re going to be hurt,” Miller added.
His biggest disappointment is how much community input he’s gathered on the project from neighbors and area residents that local government officials haven’t considered.
“They’ve listened to zero,” Miller said. “They haven’t entertained any ideas.”
Washington County Engineer Wayne Sandberg said there is always going to be some people who aren’t in favor of the roundabout and others who like it.
He argues that it will provide better traffic flow, less delay and fewer major accidents.
“Any crossing of a highway is a risk,” Sandberg said. “We’re trying to minimize that risk.”
He explained that drivers will be able to see pedestrians before going into the roundabout or exiting it.
Vehicles would also be able to go up to the roundabout and turn right without having to worry about looking to their left for cars and to their right for pedestrians.
“In a roundabout, you don’t have the right turn on red issue,” Sandberg said. “It’s different and that’s causing a lot of concerns.”
Studies the county researched were done in Europe, where there are more roundabouts.
The county has also built three roundabouts in Lakeland, one in Stonemill Farms and one in Cottage Grove. All of those have pedestrian crosswalks with variable speed limits.
“Every single roundabout we built, they operate safely,” Sandberg said.
That’s still not enough for Miller, who’s not convinced that it’ll be a safe alternative to a traditional traffic signal.
He doesn’t doubt that people will drive 20 mph in the roundabout, it’s the speed cars are going on a highway like Woodbury Drive that would hurt pedestrians, he said.
Washington County Commissioner Lisa Weik said even if accidents were to happen in a roundabout, they’re not as bad as in a traditional intersection.
“The good news is it’s not the kind of crash that hurts people,” County Engineer Joe Gustafson said.
In a roundabout, pedestrians would only need to look one direction before crossing, as opposed to looking all different ways.
“I was worried about it initially but I thought it was a wonderful improvement,” Weik said.
The county is expecting official approval from the City Council on plans for the project later this spring.
The construction project will also add multi-purpose trails on both sides of the highway as well as a second roundabout at Lake Road.
Sandberg said the most recent resident survey released by the city showed more people favoring roundabouts over traffic signals.
A resident of the Eagle Valley neighborhood himself, Sandberg is a father of three children who go in and out of that area on a daily basis.
“I wouldn’t propose a design that I thought would kill my own family,” he said.