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Roundabout Construction at US1 and Old Dixie Will Start In a Few Months Despite Opposition

| April 30, 2018

roundabouts safety

What roundabouts aim to stop. (© FlaglerLive)

The State Transportation Department expects to receive bids from contractors in August and begin building a two-lane roundabout at the crash-prone intersection of U.S. 1 and Old Dixie Highway, Steve Olson, a department spokesperson, said. Two more roundabouts are in the design phase: one for Matanzas Woods Parkway and U.S. 1, and one for State Road 11 and County Road 304, at the southern end of the county.

The projects are intended to reduce lethal crashes. The U.S, 1-Old Dixie intersection claimed six lives in two crashes just last year, and two additional fatalities going back to 2011. Half the 23 crashes between 2011 and 2015 were left-turn and angle collisions, according to a transportation department feasibility study (see below).

Roundabouts, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, “provide substantial safety and operational benefits compared to other intersection types, most notably a reduction in severe crashes.” The federal agency says severe crashes drop 82 percent when a four-way intersection with two stop signs are replaced by a roundabout. (The U.S. 1 intersection at Old Dixie is a three-way intersection with one stop sign.) Severe crashes drop 78 percent when a signalized intersection is turned into a roundabout, the agency states. Opponents of roundabouts claim that while the number of lethal traffic crashes decrease, other types of crashes increase. That’s incorrect, according to the federal transportation department, which claims that overall crash numbers fall on average 35 percent at roundabouts, compared with signalized or stop-type intersections.

The numbers vary depending on the type of roundabout, since two-lane roundabouts such as the one planned for U.S. 1 are different from one-lane roundabouts. (About a quarter of roundabouts in the country are two-lane roundabouts. Most are one-lane. A comparative few are three-lane.) Numerous studies in the United States and abroad, however, consistently show that roundabouts are significantly safer than signalized or Stop-type intersections.

Specific to the U.S. 1-Old Dixie intersection, the transportation department, according to the feasibility study, expects that the total number of crashes per year seen there will fall by 19 percent, but that fatal crashes would fall by 68 percent. The majority of crashes would cause property damage only, not injuries. The potential for high-speed crashes would be reduced in line with a speed limit–currently 65–going down to 30 on the U.S. 1 approach to the roundabout. The intersection sees about 14,000 vehicles a day pass through.

“The installation of a roundabout at this location is expected to mitigate high severity crashes such as angle crashes,” the study concluded. “The reduced speeds through the intersection at a roundabout are expected to reduce the potential for injuries or fatalities should a crash occur. The roundabout would also remove the high-speed horizontal curve through the intersection which would reduce the potential for loss-of-control crashes.”

But the study also notes: “While total crashes are expected to be reduced with implementation of a roundabout, multilane configurations are expected to result in a more modest reduction in total crashes than might be achieved with single-lane configurations. Since a primary benefit of the roundabout is reducing the potential for injury/fatal crashes, the number [property damage-only] crashes has the potential to go up slightly.”

Nevertheless, the planned roundabout at U.S. 1 and Old Dixie has generated intense opposition from Flagler County residents and the Flagler County Commission. Residents spoke their opposition at a public hearing near the intersection in January (on a day that saw a severe crash at the intersection). Sheriff Rick Staly on two occasions asked the transportation department to opt for a traffic light, but stopped short of second-guessing the department about its ultimate choice, saying he would leave that decision to engineers.

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The County Commission was not so deferential. County Commission Chairman Greg Hansen in late March, writing on behalf of the County Commission, sent a letter to Mike Dew, secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation, urging him to en planning and construction of the roundabouts at Old Dixie and on Route 11.

“We appreciate your willingness to address the safety of the roadways,” Hansen wrote, “however, we ask that you reconsider your approach to addressing the traffic situations” at the two intersections. “We request traffic lights be considered as an alternate solution to reduce traffic accidents and loss of lives.” Hansen cited the higher speed limits on the roads and their connections to county roads as justifying traffic lights, which he said “would make for a much smoother traffic flow, serve as a traffic calming devise [sic.] and would not introduce multiple traffic movements creating congestion associated with all the vehicles intersecting within the roundabout.”

The transportation department in its advocacy of roundabouts uses very similar language: roundabouts are a calming device, they are more aesthetically pleasing than traffic-light intersections and easier to maintain, they help increase rather than reduce traffic flow–stopping at a red light is essentially eliminated–help diminish congestion rather than cause it, and improve fuel efficiency.

Craig Coffey, the county administrator, said the county tried to get Palm Coast government to sign on to the request to the state to oppose the planned roundabout at U.S. 1 and Matanzas Parkway as well. The city declined. A spokesperson for Palm Coast was asked in Palm Coast was in support of the roundabout. The spokesperson said today that ” We have taken the position that it’s FDOT’s project.” (Palm Coast is not unfamiliar with roundabouts: it has them in Town Center, and was planning to alter them, but not remove them.)

“It’s our roads, we have a right to talk about what intersects with our roads,” Coffey said, noting that while local residents could be educated about the use of roundabouts over time, the county gets a lot of visitors, and has a lot of seniors: both groups could take less well to roundabouts.

At this point, Coffey said, “it’s going to take the governor or the legislative delegation to help us stop it.” He said the county may yet have other options, such as declining to provide right-of-way for the roundabout projects, if necessary.

Based on the transportation department’;s timelines, the roundabout at U.S. 1 and Matanzas Woods is currently in design, and would let out contracts in May 2019, with a public hearing planned either next month or in June. As for the roundabout at State Road 11 and County Road 304, it’s in the early design phase, with contracts expected to be let in March 2022.

DOT Feasibility Study for Roundabout at US1 and Old Dixie (2017)

29 Responses for “Roundabout Construction at US1 and Old Dixie Will Start In a Few Months Despite Opposition”

  1. Ben Hogarth says:

    If you do not know how to navigate a roundabout, you really should not be driving.

    With that said, this update to that intersection is way too late – FDOT needs to have a better model for legitimizing critical improvements like these. The whole “let’s see how many people actually die or are injured in a crash before we do something” plan isn’t something to be proud of.

  2. markingthedays says:

    We already know Palm Coast drivers don’t give a shiny turd about obeying traffic lights, so I am going to come out in agreement with this plan.

  3. Really says:

    Most do not know how or dont care to navigate a roundabout correctly

  4. Veteran says:

    How many drivers will not obey, or be distracted and hit the roundabout at 50 mph+?

  5. David Schaefer says:

    Stupid is as stupid does…….

  6. Justin says:

    People dont know how to use the roundabout BY Petsmart…. I can only imagine how this is going to work…
    It’s not rocket science with or without one…

  7. Steve Vanne says:

    Lawyers will be lining up for this one. You will be going 70mph and all of a sudden you have to slow down and go around a round about. Ya who out there see this is not going to work….

  8. Anonymous says:

    Theo os going to cause more accidents. If you want less traffic on this road, you have accomplished that. I want to live a longer life. So I will stop using Rt 1 as a shortcut to 95.

  9. Chris A Pickett says:

    Somebody needs to start the crash pool for the rotary. And to the commenter about people who don’t know how to drive on a rotary shouldn’t drive. I lived in Mass for 10 years, I seen hundreds of wrecks on rotaries there, and they have them everywhere, so what’s up with that, seems with all the rotaries theer the would know how to drive. How bout the people who turn left while someone is turning right,and Failing to yield to Right of Way.

  10. Harry says:

    I would like to see how well this works. My fear is that it is going to increase the accidents. I have had some one pull out, see me, then stop halfway in the lane, lucky there was no one in the lane next to me as I was able to change lanes quickly without having to slam on the brakes and crashing in to the idiot. I don’t feel this is going to be good.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Seems to me the BAR appears to be the problem so why not take action to close or move this BAR??? There are hundreds of thousands of drivers who pass this location and only a few end up in accidents. Something needs to be done to STOP the round a bout—It will only create confusion and be a problem because all vehicles are not created equal. There is no excuse for this being implemented when the opposition is so strong and something needs to be done to stop it. Perhaps contacting Representatives Renner or Hutson and getting them involved. I don’t think there would be as much of a problem if the BAR didn’t have several hundred of feet of road access to jump on and off the highway–a road and a light and stop sign should be used and this easy access needs to be cut off. Even with the round a bout this is going to be a problem.

  12. Richard says:

    A significant number of Florida driver’s don’t give a damn, can’t read or understand the traffic laws in regards to traffic lights, stop signs, yield signs and right-on-red so they have to be hand fed with a traffic circle forcing them to slow down to navigate it. Doesn’t mean that they won’t be some ignorant driver crashing into another vehicle who has the right-of-way in the circle however the blow will be much less severe than a T-bone of head-on crash. Good move DOT!

  13. Shark says:

    Most people in Florida have a hard time driving in a straight line. I can’t imagine what this will do !!!!

  14. Outsider says:

    The answer always seems to be dumb down the whole system to the lowest common denominator.

  15. Chris A Pickett says:

    How long has the intersection been there now, at least 70 years…………Perhaps the problem is not the road, perhaps it is cell phones, alcohol, and stupidity.

  16. gmath55 says:

    I see the future right here:

  17. FlaglerBear says:

    I think FDOT should incorporate the nearby railroad tracks into the roundabout. Get the freight trains in the mix as well. That would be fun to watch!

  18. Coyote says:

    “The potential for high-speed crashes would be reduced in line with a speed limit–currently 65–going down to 30 on the U.S. 1 approach to the roundabout. The intersection sees about 14,000 vehicles a day pass through.”

    Why not just reduce the speed limit to 30 MPH on the entire Route 1 highway? That would reduce the fatal crashes also. And add I-95 to the 30 mph limit … sarcasm/

    Really? The federal DOT touts the reduction in fatal crashes, but neglects to mention the reducing of the speed limits – which would have resulted in less fatal crashes even without the roundabouts.

    My biggest problem with this isn’t the roundabout as such, as much as it is that the State DOT has chosen the largest impact, most expensive , and completely irreversible solution First, without any attempt(s) at any interim trials (most of which could be built upon, or rescinded if necessary, at a later time). ‘

    Why not put a light in for a while and see how that works? Or even one of those radar/light displays … “your speed is … “. Or even accept the salary cost of putting an officer directly in the area for specific times, with a mandate to watch the road. Even a full-year salary for a new traffic officer would be much much less than this atrocity is going to cost, not to mention what it will do to the traffic whilst being built.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Because there was opposition and round a bouts are known to create confusion if one is put into place at the location by the White Eagle, if one person is killed or injured after the implementation then the county and DOT should be held accountable. This is not a solution, they know this is not a solution and yet they are doing it anyway creating more danger than what currently exists. Ger your check books ready!

  20. PTC Trader says:

    Show me the 70 mph zone on US 1

  21. Mark101 says:

    I have to agree with Chris Picket, maybe its not the road but the distractions by the drivers. A road doesn’t pull out in front of someone, the driver has got to be distracted by a cell phones, impaired by alcohol, and/or just mixed with stupidity. trying to beat a car at the intersection. Whatever, it kills. Lets give this some time and see what happens. The roundabout is going to happen , regardless what is written here.

  22. Linze says:

    Stupid does as stupid is
    In force the laws ,speed is a factor in wreaks

  23. Ben Hogarth says:

    It’s easy to know when you are in a Republican-led State when the solution of adding a full time traffic cop to an intersection in the middle of nowhere is proposed before a solution to pay for more rigorous driving education requirements as a requirement for the issuance of a license. Maybe if everyone were forced to take a road rules / laws examination each year before being allowed to renew their registration may ward off more accidents than expensive infrastructure improvements. Then again, selfish drivers tend to be another leading cause of avoidable accidents.

  24. Just sayin' says:

    Gonna be a nightmare for fully loaded 18 wheelers. This county always chooses the hardest / most expensive way.

  25. YankeeExPat says:

    I always imagine that there is a track of the Benny Hill Show theme song playing in the background whenever I drive in Palm Coast. But then a slap of reality of the carnage and mayhem the inept driving practices so popular here lead me to believe Chopin’s a funeral march is more appropriate.

  26. Chris A Pickett says:

    I see a LOT of people complaining about the drivers of Florida and Palm Coast, the problem is the majority of those drivers are NOT from Florida, but from up North. The problem stems from the fact that they come here and want to drive like they are back there. Trust me I came here from Cape Cod(NOT FROM THERE!), and let me tell you they do some pretty idiotic stuff there, just like NY and NJ, so please if you want to state facts, state them.

  27. larry krasner says:

    As Ron White wryly noted: “You can’t fix stupid.” Roundabouts can work in slower speed zones, around 30-35 mph, but when you get up to 50-65+mph you need a traffic light, not another traffic sign, to warn drivers there’s a roundabout ahead.

  28. Anonymous says:

    The number of times I have almost gotten HIT by other cars using roundabouts is 10 times more often than the amount of times I have nearly gotten hit going down U.S. 1. Hey, if you are going to put roundabouts on a MAJOR HIGHWAY where the speed limit ranges from 50 to 65 or more, then expect MORE BAD crashes to happen. How stupid can one be???? This PROVES that we need to change out the party in charge in the State – they are imbeciles. Plus that party wants to steal and end our retirement trust funds that we taxpayers have paid into all our working lives so they can continue to ruin the country and give all the profits to the billionaires ONLY.

  29. Harry says:

    So this morning I’m driving down 100 to Finagler Beach. I have a green light (and it has been green for a while) at the 95 overpass, and here goes this idiot running the red light to get on 95 South, then about 5 seconds later, monkey see monkey do comes along and runs the light too, this time I’m much closer to the light so I have to slam on my breaks. if these morons can’t even use a traffic light, how does the city expect them to use a roundabout?

    Take that all aside, I have little faith in them even building the roundabout correctly! here is what I mean by that; they put lights up on US1 at Belle Terre Pakwy, as well as Semionle Woods Blvd. some one comes up and the light stops US1 a 4 lane Highway. the next car comes up but does not make it and stops. less than 30 seconds later US1 is going Yellow if not Red for 1 car!

    Next example, Belle Terre Pakwy they put a turning lane in for the Army National Guard, and doing so they push back Laguna Forest Trail, creating a blind curve to see Belle Terre Pakwy North bound top it off they put a painted median on Belle Terre Pakwy, but do not include a turning lane for Laguna Forest Trail,

    So I have to wonder how bad they are going to place this roundabout to make it more dangerous that it already has the potential to be?

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