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home : opinions : opinions May 24, 2016

2/11/2014 12:41:00 PM
Roundabouts are the best option
By Carey Tosello

The recent letters to the editor about roundabouts came as a surprise, until I realized that it has been five years since the city proposed, and the community came behind, the most recent transportation plan (TSP).

The TSP was a long process involving input from all parts of the community and took many months to develop, and then years to implement. The comments expressed in this paper may be due to the amount of time that has passed since we went through the TSP revision back in 2009. People new to Sisters are wondering why we are committed to roundabouts, and others may have forgotten the lengthy public process that took place that led us to this decision.

The reason that Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) Manager Gary Farnsworth stated in The Nugget that "the city and community has been very clear that they prefer, desire roundabouts" is because ODOT was part of the discussion and they got the message loud and clear. As a member of that TSP panel, I can tell you that we looked at ALL options to safely and efficiently move people, cars, and bikes around and through our town. The amount of time and effort put into getting this part of the TSP right was extensive, along with many well-attended public meetings and workshops, and lots of conversation in The Nugget.

Without enough space here to go into all the details that were presented at the time, I can tell you that (as ODOT stated) the community got solidly behind roundabouts over signals. There were many skeptics at the start of the process, but after being presented with all of the facts, the vast majority (over 90 percent in one survey) wanted to see roundabouts in Sisters and not traffic lights.

While everyone is entitled to their opinion, here is a quick recap of some of the facts concerning roundabouts:

• ALL traffic slows to 15 to 20 mph, which will eliminate the high speeds coming into town. The Barclay and Highway 20 intersection has seen injury accidents in the past due to high speeds, which can be eliminated.

• Roundabouts are vastly safer than signals, showing a 75% reduction in injury accidents. With a high volume of teenage drivers using this intersection, don't we want to make it as safe as possible?

• Studies show an increase in efficient traffic flow by up to 50% over a signal. No need for locals to sit at a red light during the 300+ days with no traffic, and the flow of traffic during the busy tourist season will be improved as well.

• Roundabouts are environmentally friendly. They require no electricity to operate and don't contribute to greenhouse gases by having cars idling then accelerating away like signals do.

• When designed properly they allow for large trucks, buses, and RVs to move thru them without problem.

• Several states have installed them on highways with success and there are hundreds in Australia - even multi-lane ones on major highways.

• A larger and busy tourist town like Bend has dozens of them and they continue to build more. Why? Because they work.

I realize that there are some who don't like roundabouts because, well, they just don't like them. But for those who want to understand why they are the best solution for Sisters, I encourage you to stop in and talk to Public Works Director Paul Bertagna at City Hall and get all of the facts before making up your mind. If you do, I am sure you will agree that they are the safest, most efficient, and eye-pleasing option.

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