As is usually the case, there are two sides to every story. The side about which this letter is being written is the one in support of roundabouts.
There are, in my opinion, some compelling reasons why roundabouts make good sense. Here are several which come to mind:
A) Because the speed limit in roundabouts is in the vicinity of only 15 mph, the severity of any collision, should one occur, is considerably less than that present in any collision occurring at a conventional intersection.
B) Because of the circular nature of the traffic flow in roundabouts, the trauma incurred from a T-bone type of collision is totally eliminated.
C) At conventional right-angle intersections during the winter months, the formation of what's called black ice occurs, as condensation from vehicle exhaust pipes drops to, and freezes on the pavement, while those vehicles idle as they wait for a green light.
This black ice becomes like a skating rink, and often contributes to rear-end type collisions, especially during rush hour traffic on cold days.
Because roundabouts have no stop signs, there is no consequent accumulation of black ice, and therefore a significant reduction in rear-end collisions.
D) Because roundabouts have no stop signs, there is no engine idling. This has two distinct positive side effects: 1. less thermal and chemical pollution of the ambient air; 2. less fuel consumption related to engine idling.
E) Absent the expense of traffic signals, the cost of installing a roundabout can be significantly less than that of a conventional intersection.
It is to the credit of our St. Croix County Highway Department, working in concert with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, that in recent years we have been blessed with strategically located roundabouts in our county.
Buzz Marzolf, Town of Troy
St. Croix County Board Supervisor 18 (Former Traffic Safety Committee member)