Whether you love them or hate them, roundabouts on major roadways have become the trend in road design when improvements are being made. By next summer, the number or roundabouts on Wright County highways is going to nearly double.
While there are several roundabouts in cities within the county that have roundabouts, as well as highways on the Minnesota Department of Transportation system, until this year Wright County’s road system had only six. However, two ongoing projects are going to add five more to the system.
Three of the new roundabouts are on CSAH 39, being installed at the intersections of CSAH 42 (Parrish Avenue), Page Avenue and Odean Avenue. The roundabout at CSAH 42 is in the process of being paved and could be opened to traffic sometime next week. The Page Avenue roundabout will be constructed this year. Time permitting, the Odean Avenue roundabout may get on the 2020 schedule, but, more likely, will be completing is 2021 Two additional roundabouts on being constructed on the CSAH 19 project in Albertville.
Wright County Highway Engineer Virgil Hawkins said the reason for the spike in roundabout construction statewide has been based on traffic science. When the alternatives are stop light signals or a two-way stop with the main lanes of traffic unimpeded, the likelihood of a deadly crash increases significantly.
“They’re proven to be much safer,” Hawkins said. “They virtually eliminate altogether fatal crashes. People are traveling at a lower speed and they’re all traveling in the same direction. The crashes that do happen are low-speed and are usually a side swipe or property damage crash. Very seldom are there injury crashes at roundabouts. Signal systems and two-way stops are where you get T-bone crashes – often at high speed. That’s where you get fatalities when one vehicle is traveling at a high rate of speed.”
Hawkins attributed the current spike in roundabout construction to funding through the county’s Local Option Sales Tax, which has allowed more improvement projects to be completed by the county each year.
“They’ve been popping up everywhere because of the safety aspect,” Hawkins said. “Since we implemented the Local Option Sales Tax, we’ve been able to do more reconstruction and expansion projects. That’s where roundabouts come in and they’ve been a welcome addition to our road system.”
To see a virtual look of the CSAH 39 improvements, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OD51ltNh1mA