Letters to the Editor

Local: Roundabouts confuse drivers

I was saddened to read your March 5 article, “Roundabouts enthuse traffic planners.” The subtitle should be, “But they confuse drivers.”

Having lived in New Jersey, which discovered traffic circles many years ago, I have had far too much experience with them. We lived near the most dangerous traffic circle in New Jersey. Several years ago, they redesigned it at a cost of millions of dollars. They ended up with stoplights and something resembling a conventional intersection. Before the redesign, it was a real carnival ride.

When I told my family that DOT was considering a traffic circle for Oak Harbor, they couldn’t believe it. My son told of getting caught on the inner lane of a traffic circle and wondering if he would grow old there. Round and round we go, and whether we will be able to exit, nobody knows.

I wish that I had more faith in the DOT traffic planners who are proposing a traffic circle to clean up “the congested, restrictive and ugly strip of Highway 20 from Swantown Avenue to Cabot Street” (your description of that stretch of highway).

How did that stretch get to be congested, restrictive and ugly? Wasn’t it bad planning on the part of experts, who now propose a roundabout to fix the problem they created? Before experts approved intense development along that stretch, it would have been simple to set aside a wide strip of land for a decent road. At this point, the area is so congested that few good alternatives remain.

I can foresee, 10 years from now, DOT experts proposing a tunnel to solve the roundabout problem that they are now proposing.

Your experts say that traffic circles “are very, very safe.” In a perfect world, that might be true. I wonder if it will be true when traffic in the area doubles again. I doubt it.

The real problem is experts for whom theory triumphs over common sense.

Richard Donovan

Oak Harbor

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