Roundabouts: why so costly?

Letters to the Editor (The Guardian)
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While debating the pros and cons of roundabouts may be akin to beating a dead horse, as long as our governments continue to throw a ton of money at them, people will continue to question the projects.

I will agree roundabouts do speed traffic flow, but they don’t always do so in an appropriate manner. The difficulty in enforcing their rules seems to be directly proportional to the rudeness of the drivers using them.

Many people race into the roundabout, well above the speed limit, because they know traffic on their right must yield to them. So, if you have a line of 20 cars bumper to bumper in the roundabout (‘freight-training’ was a term one of your letter writers used), you must sit there until they all go through. There would be more breaks in traffic flow if drivers obeyed the speed limit of the roundabout and the road leading into it.

Back to the money side of the issue. A Guardian article (“City ready to design airport roundabout”) reported that “The Vogue Optical roundabout is pegged at $2.5 million while the one at the airport is expected to cost $1.5 million.”

This is where I have a problem. These costs seem extremely high. Looking around the internet, I see in Washington state the average cost to construct a roundabout is $330,000. In Maryland, it is $250,000. The dollars are equal, and I doubt if our soft shale is harder to build roads on than granite or other rock materials. So why do we spend so much money on them?

 One of the advantages the government touted before the first one was built was the savings in energy costs compared to traffic lights. Take a look at the roundabouts on Riverside Drive. That forest of tall aluminum poles with all those lights — is that cheaper than four traffic lights? Perhaps the government could update us on this cost.

 Yes, roundabouts are a good idea, but why not more minimal in construction? They don’t have to be tourist attractions, do they?

Lloyd Kerry,


Geographic location: Washington, Maryland, Charlottetown

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