Tuesday, August 28, 2012

At Least They Can Admit They Were Wrong

I have to give credit to the Department of Transportation, they have made their first admission that building a roundabout at a busy intersection was a mistake.  Unfortunately, the drivers will have to continue to live with that mistake for many more years to come.

In case you missed it last week, the DOT was forced to change the traffic patterns at the roundabout at the intersection of Broadway in De Pere and the Claude Allouez Bridge.  Apparently, the "old way" of driving through the roundabout was leading to so many accidents that one of the three lanes had to be shut down to at least limit the opportunities for people to collide with each other.

Having lived in Green Bay for years--and because there are a couple of really good restaurants in that area--I've had to drive through that intersection many, many times.  When it was controlled by a stop light, things seemed to be okay.  At shift change time at the paper mill it got a little backed up--but at least people weren't getting confused and slamming into each other.  You waited for the light to change--you drove through the intersection--and went on your way.

However, that wasn't good enough for the "progressive" traffic engineers at the DOT.  They had to build a 2 and half lane roundabout at the bridge--and reconstruct the approaches--so that one of the roads requires you to navigate an S-curve before entering the intersection just so two of the entry points aren't so close together.

Now, those same engineers are having to admit that the traffic at the roundabout is heavier than they expected it would be--and that the design can't move that many cars through it safely.  (The ironic thing is that to make the roundabout "safer" they have to close one of the lanes, reducing the capacity.  Hmmmm....).  The other--perhaps more shocking--admission is that people just couldn't figure out what to do once they got into the roundabout--even after three years of driving through it.  I could have told them that just having to drive through the Witzel Avenue roundabouts multiple times a day--nobody ever seems to learn.

Unfortunately for drivers, the DOT can't go back to the good old-fashioned traffic light controls at the De Pere intersection.  At least without spending several million dollars AGAIN to undo what was done with millions of dollars of taxpayer money.  So the only solution is to put police officers on almost full-time patrol of the roundabout to deal with the crashes and to stop people who perform illegal movements in it--in the hope that at some time in the future, it will make sense to have it there.

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