Adjusting To Change: Motorists Using New Roundabouts On Union Chapel

By Jeff Neumeyer

December 18, 2013 Updated Dec 18, 2013 at 7:00 PM EDT

ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (21ALIVE) --- Motorists using a new section of road near the Parkview North hospital campus are getting familiar with how to make progress despite driving in circles.

Indeed, Union Chapel Road may soon earn a distinction in Allen County as home to the “roundabouts”.

" It's only been a couple weeks, but I think it's working out well," said Rita Schindler, who lives within a quarter mile of a roundabout at Union Chapel and Old Auburn Road that opened to cars and trucks on December 4th.

There are no traffic lights in the roundabouts.

You approach, yielding to traffic already circling.

You navigate by looping in a counter-clockwise pattern, exiting with a right hand turn at the proper leg, depending upon which direction you’re headed.

A slimmed-down version, what's called a "dogbone roundabout", became operational at the I-69 interchange in early August.

" You don't have to really stop, you have to be careful and kind of cruise through. Other than that, you just keep going your own way, I appreciate what they did," said Tom Devine, who also lives in a subdivision along Union Chapel.

Roundabouts have a longer history in some other parts of the world.

But they are becoming more popular here as well.

They offer positive benefits.

You have fewer delays, which also cut down on pollution.

Because there are no signals, you save about $5,000 per roundabout per year, in terms of traffic light repairs.

And there is evidence that they are safer.

A study by the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety evaluated changes in motor vehicle crashes following conversion of 24 intersections in 8 different states from stop sign and traffic signal control to modern roundabouts.

The results showed a 76 percent reduction for all injury crashes.

More telling, reductions in the numbers of fatal and incapacitating injury crashes were estimated to be about 90 percent.

The study concluded that roundabout installation should be strongly promoted as an effective safety treatment for intersections.

" You've got fewer conflict points, so any crashes are typically like side-to-side, versus 't-boning’ or a head-on crash," said Mary Foster, with INDOT’s Fort Wayne District office.

The transition period on Union Chapel has generated complaints from some motorists, but because of the savings to pocketbook and life and limb, motorists better get used to the new design, because there’s likely no turning back now.

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