Drivers debate on new city roundabouts
Story by Antwan Harris
Eyewitness News Reporter
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- There's a big debate over roundabouts.
Many people say they're confusing and a waste of taxpayer's money, while others believes they improve traffic and safety.
Soon, you may see more in the Tennessee Valley.
The roundabout issue comes as cities nationwide are trying to trim their budgets and looking for more cost effective ways to tackle road safety.
The city of Chattanooga has been on the forefront when it comes to roundabouts in the southeast.
A traffic analyst tells Channel 3 they are a proven success at reducing accidents and as far as confusing, well, they just take some getting used to.
The more Chattanoogans make their way around the city, the more likely you're to encounter one of the cities many roundabouts.
The very one way, and sometimes awkward, turn is actually a safety net for Chattanooga's traffic problems.
"There is never any traffic jam backing up because everyone knows what they are doing," says driver Doris Larson.
Everyone may know, but everyone may not like it.
The largest roundabout in the city, at Highway 153 and Lake Resort Drive, has two lanes which some drivers have deemed a headache.
According to the city, this roundabout is virtual aspirin.
Accidents are down 35-percent and all for a cost of about $100,000.
"Roundabouts have higher construction costs, but there no long-term fee of maintaining traffic signal equipment," says Ben Taylor, city traffic analyst.
That helps in times of inclement weather, where traffic lights and power are the first to take a hit in the storm.
Research shows there are 32 ways to get into an accident at an intersection.
A roundabout has only eight ways.
The heavy traffic intersection of Shallowford and Jenkins Road is next on the roundabout list.
Ironically, Kurt King says it's a roundabout way of fixing the issues here.
"I think the best thing to do is widen the road all the way down. I think a roundabout would be a lot of hard work for a waste," says King.
Chattanooga's first roundabout was built in 2001 and since then 14 have sprung up around the city.
We are told the Shallowford and Jenkins Road construction will start very soon.