News

Traffic circle erased, hump to return

It’s back to the drawing board for Oak Harbor’s traffic circle proponents.

The city’s first traffic circle installed at the intersection of Southeast Ely Street and Eighth Avenue in early August should be removed by the end of this week.

The circle routed traffic around the edges of the intersection, encouraging drivers to slow down. But not without some confusion.

Officials say the slope of the street, its sharp curve and some public confusion in how to navigate the circle has proved it may not be the best fit for this particular intersection.

A more likely solution is a traffic speed hump, Oak Harbor city engineers say.

In fact, city crews installed a temporary traffic-slowing hump just north of the high-volume intersection of Ely and Eighth Avenue earlier this summer.

This traffic fix appeared to work better, with drivers slowing at the intersection and along Ely Street, a residential area that is frequently used as a shortcut to nearby Highway 20.

City engineers expect to reinstall the temporary hump in the coming months.

“The city’s number one goal is to allow the traveling public to do so safely, without reasonable delay,” said City Engineer Larry Benfield in a news release.

The department has installed two other temporary speed humps in other parts of the city as part of similar traffic-slowing trials.

“The city has a responsibility to make safe situations where speeding cars routinely impact the public’s ability to drive and walk, especially in residential neighborhoods,” Benfield said.

But, as Benfield pointed out, it’s better for the city to try out a temporary solution before installing a permanent one.

“In this way, the city is able to come up with the best possible solution to any particular traffic area by putting it to the test before any permanent changes are made,” Benfield said.

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