Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Frisco City Council considers building three roundabouts in major intersections
The roundabouts would be located on Ohio Drive intersecting at Prestmont Place, Warren Parkway, and Gaylord Parkway.
FRISCO Planning is moving ahead on three proposed multilane roundabouts that would be located at Ohio Drive intersections, and a very real possibility exists that construction on the intersections could begin sometime in the next two years.
The Frisco City Council was updated Monday on the status of the planning. Though no decision was made whether to approve the roundabouts, council members expressed optimism regarding the roundabouts' potential to reduce accidents.
Possible roundabouts on Ohio Drive were first brought to the council's attention at a workshop on October 22. At that time, council members voiced concerns about the safety and ease of use of the circular form of intersection.
According to data presented at Monday's council meeting, however, those concerns are likely unwarranted.
A study conducted by Brown & Gay Engineers that was contracted by the city determined roundabouts would work both with the city's current population and at build out.
Federico Mendoza, a traffic engineer for Brown & Gay, said the roundabouts hold several potential advantages over traditional intersections.
"We looked at roundabouts basically because of the safety benefits," he said. "They have the benefit of reducing crashes, especially the more severe ones. Crash reduction data shows that up to 90 percent of crash fatalities can be reduced through the use of roundabouts."
Another benefit, Mendoza said, is that the installation of roundabouts at the three proposed locations -- Ohio Drive intersections at Prestmont Place, Warren Parkway, and Gaylord Parkway -- could use existing pavement and drainage.
"This roundabout [at the intersection of Ohio Drive and Gaylord Parkway] is a two-lane roundabout with an outside diameter of approximately 150 feet," he said. "This roundabout can fit, for the most part, within the existing concrete pavement -- we can utilize most of the existing pavement of that intersection."
Because the circular nature of roundabouts leaves an empty space in the center of the intersection, that area would likely be used for landscaping and other aesthetic features. Additionally, pedestrian crosswalks would exist at each of the intersections.
Conservative construction cost estimates for the roundabouts are $300,000 for the Warren roundabout, $320,000 for the Gaylord roundabout and $467,000 for the roundabout at Prestmont.
Those costs doesn't include maintenance and related fees, however.
"You'd probably be looking at about $3,000 to $5,000 a year for the ongoing maintenance [at each intersection] -- that doesn't include major storm damage or anything like that," said Brian Moen, assistant director of engineering services for the city. "The signal itself for these locations would run between $160,000 and $200,000. I think you can make that cost up easily when you look at the reduced fatalities and injuries."
While the city council members were all receptive to the idea of multilane roundabouts on major intersections in the city, they did express reservations.
One of those reservations was if residents would know the difference between roundabouts and traffic circles. Roundabouts operate by having vehicles entering the intersection yield to traffic already on the roundabout; traffic circles require motorists to come to a full stop.
Council Member Scott Johnson wasn't yet sold on the intersections, though he admitted he'll consider them.
"I'm open to the idea," Johnson said. "I'm not necessarily champing at the bit to do it. If it's got huge benefits, I'm open to looking at it, but I have to be sold on it."
Johnson added his wife prefers not to use roundabouts and conveyed concerns that other residents may have similar sentiments.
Most council members appeared to be in favor of installing one of the roundabouts before committing to more.
If the three roundabouts are constructed, they would likely be the first multilane roundabouts at major intersections in Collin County. Currently, there are multiple single-lane roundabouts located in Frisco neighborhoods.
Other cities across the state are also considering implementing multilane roundabouts, however, including Austin.
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