The Florida Department of Transportation appears to have learned what to do and what not to do when presenting information about roundabouts: putting up colorful design plans and letting officials speak with residents one-on-one, like counselors calming agitation, is OK. Giving residents a crack at an open mic is not.
The department hosted an open-mic public hearing in January when it unveiled plans for a $2.9 million roundabout at U.S. 1 and Old Dixie Highway. It didn’t go well. Nearly every speaker was staunchly, at times angrily opposed to the plan, including a county commissioner who joined the opposition and even spoke “on behalf of Flagler County” to oppose the thing, even though the commission had not taken a position.
It was a different story Wednesday evening at the Palm Coast Community Center, where the transportation department unveiled plans for the $2.2 million roundabout planned for U.S. 1 and Matanzas Woods Parkway. There was not a mic in sight, and the only few chairs in the room had been positioned before a screen where a controlled video about the project looped for the two-hour duration of the event. Meanwhile, the department’s own officials and representatives of the design and engineering firms it hired for the project were arrayed next to colorful drawings of the proposed roundabout, ready to answer questions one-on-one.
Some 80 people turned out to hear about what most of them don’t want, though the roundabout is coming anyway: construction is planned for next year, a project expected to stretch over 14 months.
Construction on the roundabout at Matanzas Woods would start in the summer of 2019. Construction on the roundabout at Old Dixie and U.S. 1 was scheduled to start this month. Though the bids are in, it’s being delayed to the beginning of 2019, a transportation department spokesman said.
A third roundabout was also planned in Flagler, that one for the intersection of State Road 11 and County Road 304, or Cody’s Corner, at the southwestern end of the county. But that roundabout is now on hold. “Certain things have come up in our research that maybe we want to reconsider,” Steve Olson, the transportation department spokesman, said. Instead, the intersection will get additional lighting and perhaps other safety devices such as flashing reds and orange signs. The roundabout proposal was set aside for now in part because of low traffic numbers at that intersection. But it may be revived in the future.
Watch the Transportation Department’s Presentation on the US1/Matanzas Woods Roundabout
The two other roundabouts are a certainty.
The transportation department is designing and building roundabouts across Florida. They’re the new method of traffic control, at least in this country (they’re old hat in Europe), a way to diminish fatal and injury-prone crashes: numerous studies show that roundabouts not only decrease the net number of crashes, but significantly diminish the number of fatal crashes and crashes that result in severe injuries.
Many people who turned out Thursday, like Palm Coast resident Sharon Rigo, wondered why, as there are existing traffic lights along U.S. 1 as it is, the department wouldn’t continue the trend.
Olson explained, citing one of the intersections in Flagler: “If we were to have that very same peoposal before us today, the roundabout would be what we’d be thinking about at that intersection.” In other words, get used to roundabouts wherever transportation engineers have the option.
That sort of explanation tends not to satisfy those opposed to roundabouts.
“To me, it’s not as controlled as having traffic stop one way, traffic stop the other way,” said Ernest Aquilio, a Palm Coast resident of the B Section who drives Matanzas Woods Parkway and U.S. 1 often. He was among those questioning the plan Thursday evening. His preference, as is that of most people who oppose roundabouts, is for traffic lights, even though traffic lights stop traffic dead, whereas roundabouts merely slow it down. He described the proposed roundabout as “nice and fancy,” but costly and disruptive to traffic in a way that a traffic light would not disrupt.
Two county commissioners turned out for the information meeting–Donald O’Brien and Dave Sullivan–as did two Palm Coast City Commissioners, none of them opposed to the plan even if their enthusiasm for it varied. The Matanzas Woods/U.S. 1 roundabout is in O’Brien’s district. O’Brien is fully for it, as people who have driven in Europe tend to be. O’Brien has, meaning that he’s experienced driving on roundabout-rich roads in regions where it’s possible to drive for dozens of miles through several towns without ever encountering a traffic light.
“They have intersections that have major traffic flow, and they work so well, it’s mind-boggling how well they work, and there’s no traffic lights anywhere,” O’Brien said. He uses the Matanzas Woods-U.S. 1 intersection three to four times a day. He sees the functionality of a roundabout there, and calls the general trend toward roundabouts “progress” that keeps up with research on traffic safety. He also supports the roundabout at U.S. 1 and Old Dixie.
“The FDOT is going this route no matter what we do,” Sullivan said, “and I think in this case it makes sense. FDOT statewide is going to this type of intersection.”
In an appearance on WNZF’s Free For All Fridays this morning, Palm Coast City Manager Jim Landon said he knows better than to dispute expert findings about such things as roundabouts, though he, too, spoke a common misconception: that overall crashes don’t decline with roundabouts, only severe crashes do. That’s not accurate, with study upon study showing net decreases overall as well as more dramatic decreases in grave crashes.
Landon addressed a common complaint in the city–the roundabouts in Town Center (where there’s never been a fatal vehicle crash), saying that those were poorly designed and don’t fit the current design standards of roundabouts. The devices at times confuse drivers.
Confusion and lack of familiarity with roundabouts is often the reason drivers resist them, older drivers in particular, which helps explains the resistance to roundabouts in Flagler, where the median age is 50.
Bob Cuff and Vincent Lyon were the Palm Coast council members who turned up at Thursday’s Community Center meeting. Cuff noted that the Matanzas Woods roundabout may seem out of place now, but is in fact good planning ahead of expected and significant development in that quadrant of the city. Still, Cuff was characteristically quick with the sort of witticism that illustrates roundabout navigation in places unused to them: “I did sarcastically suggest that maybe some speed-activated landing nets like they use on aircraft carriers might not be a bad idea,” Cuff said.
Absolutely crazy – the round-about will not lessen accidents but only enhance them especially on Rt. 1 and Old Dixie Highway with all of the tractor trailers and the speed limit. What in the world are people thinking – how about a stop light instead? Less money and better safety. Or is that just to easy a reasonable fix? And another one at Matanza Woods and Rt. 1 again way too much traffic to have this be a good idea – you will see accidents weekly if not daily – who is making money on these ideas? It certainly isn’t for safety reasons. Think about it before you act on something the public is telling you is not a good idea – perhaps the masses and residents know more.
These roundabouts have been hashed over and over again here on Flaglerlive till the cows come home. People, there are much worse things going on in Flagler County such as the extreme high rate of suicides that you just need to get over this about the roundabouts and get a life. It’s not the end of the world and the sky is not falling any time soon.
I may not be a smart man but wouldn’t it be cheaper and easier just to lower the speed limit and install a traffic light????????????
Unfortunately drivers skill set exhibited on in and around existing rotaries locally is poor at best. Another alternative would be my choice. The powers that be in this County dont listen to the constituents so whatever
Steve Vanne says
Just don’t understand why they can’t just put up traffic lights in stead of roundabouts. Its just going to cause havoc. Just think ur going 65mph or more and all of a sudden u have to slow down to going around a roundabout. But the county have already made up there. County just wasting our money. My street floods every time it rains, been that way for 10yrs and nothing has been done YET. But we have nice landscape along Belle Terre. I’m just at a lost…………
Rosie O'Donnell says
Roundabouts are safer; the data is clear. Don’t be afraid. Sometimes a little change is good.
I think ppl just complain to complain. Seriously..it’s not like we have much traffic at either intersection to warrant a traffic light? A roundabout makes perfect sense.
Bring ’em on!!! I welcome the roundabouts – no more red-light runners and no more T-bone crashes.
I’d like to see the statistics that indicate there are “fewer” accidents. From what I have read, there are MORE accidents at roundabouts but the accidents are at a lower speed. Therefore better for the insurance companies. They are bad for drivers, complicated for bicyclists and terrible for pedestrians.
What a stupid idea, will be more wreaks
Keep your roundabouts out of the country.
Rick G says
Roundabouts may work on roads where the speed limit is 40 MPH or less but I’m concerned about those on US 1 where the speed limit is 60 & 65 MPH. Even professional drivers like open wheel racers or sports cars who utilize what is call a chicane make mistakes on these things. What is going to happen to most of the drivers out there who can hardly negotiate a 4 way stop.
Yankee E-Pat says
Palmcoasters can’t navigate the circle near Pet-Smart, I doubt they can handle this on an open road.
Jolene Dehart says
All this ridiculous waste of money for a roundabout in a place not even big enough. All they need at the White Eagle intersection of Old Dixie and US1 is a red light, and the stop sign at the dirt road behind white eagle, that has almost no traffic.
Charles m Burgan` says
The first time 95 is shut down and traffic is sent on US1 these roundabouts will become a nightmare.
Imagine thousands of 18 wheeler s going through our county, and these roundabouts.
totally stupid fawken idea….
How about a simple traffic signal .
The only problem that I have is 90% of people in flagler county when making a right or left turn immediately merge or drift into next lane.(super wide turn).For people merging to the right,not going threw the roundabout will cross into the traffic that are going threw it.A small short barrier should be added to avoid this I bet that you will still still see a little paint on that barrier but still makes it safer.
Concerned Citizen says
People can’t handle the round about at the Target shopping Center. How are they going to handle 2 on US1?
This is the D.O.T. of State of Florida’s idea. Florida already has more roundabouts than any other state. There are around 1200 roundabouts in the State of Florida already. Roundabouts are safer in some ways that lights, signs, “wakeup” speed bumps, caution lights, etc., but the main reason the state likes them is good ole fashion cost. They are relatively cheap to build and maintenance is virtually not existent other than the normal paving of the highways they are located on and landscape up keep. However, the safest way to cross “especially” a four lane intersection is on an overpass bridge. Look around our area at the major cities in this part of the state. To maintain normal speed traffic flow and prevent grid lock and accidents you travel over most cities on bridges which leaves the traffic below un-encumbered and with very few collisions. The problem to the state is cost. The cost to build one of these bridges is enormous and they have a finite life span which is not as long as the roundabout. The most expedient and safest way to cross an intersection is like I have said, is to cross over it on an overpass bridge. These roundabouts are a disaster for big commercial vehicles as well. Over all I as a Taxpayer, I would rather have a bridge 1st, and 2nd, all the lights, speed bumps, and lighted flashing signage to make any intersection safe.
Born and Raised Here says
Next Old Coast Kings and Palm Coast Prkwy
A roundabout will solve all the problems…..REally? Seems many people here cannot yield when turning left, which is the LAW, and cannot maintain a proper lane when they turn right. When turning left, you turn after everyone else has gone or if there is an arrow you turn, YOU yield to those turning right. When you turn right, you turn in the the lane you are turning from, NOT the lane next to it. And for the record I have seen people do this with NY plates, as well as Mass and Florida, so it is NOT simply a Florida thing. As someone who came here from Mass,(NOT from there), if you want to see true idiocy, drive on their roads………
ABSOLUTE GIFT OF A BIG CONTRACT FROM FDOT TO SOMEONE’S CRONY . IF IT AIN’T BROKE DON’T FIX IT.
Add a few speed bumps and really piss everyone off.
I have worked overseas several times in Belgium, Spain, Switzerland all of them use roundabouts. About 90% of the intersections are roundabouts, the only intersections I waited in traffic and seen accidents was at the intersections with redlights. There are many more semi trucks over there and most of the roads are two lanes. Maybe if everyone would be open to slowing down and paying attention when approaching the round about there will not be any issue. To many people is in a rush.
Way Too Early says
In DC they are called circles and they have had them for decades. So not really a new concept. DC even had circles that have traffic lights. They are not that bad if you stay in your lane. : )
I wish A1A had lots of roundabouts, maybe it would slow down the speeders. Nothing else seems to work.
Ever visited DC? There they’ (roundabouts) are called “Circles.”. Varying speed patterns, but a way of life for many!
To capt says: Have you noticed farther south on A1A heading north towards the Pier, the speed limit is 25 mph where there are just a few people crossing A1A to get to the ocean. When your heading north and get nearer to the Pier and the restaurant section where more people are crossing A1A, the speed limit goes up to 30 mph. It seems to me the speed limit nearer the Pier should be lower not higher where there are more people crossing A1A,wouldn’t you agree?
no we do not need a round about.just put stop lights up.not a happy camper
Joan Whittemore says
A roundabout can be a wonderful strategy for dealing with traffic when it is at a slow pace such as in town or on a road with a slow speed limit. I am not opposed to the idea at all. The problem with placing one in the middle of US 1 where traffic could potentially flow from the northeastern US to Miami and traffic travels at speeds of 50 mph and up, in the dark at night, is that it is unexpected. It will undoubtedly lead to more fatalities, not less. How unfortunate this is not seen in advance of then occurring. How many will it take I wonder.
When we speak and say we don’t want round a bouts and our elected representatives let DOT do what they want instead of working for us then this is an indication that we need to not elect any incumbent and vote in new leadership. This is our tax dollars and our county and our representatives have an obligation and responsibility to work for us! DOT needs to understand this is OUR county and we have a say so and when we speak we expect respect and representation. NO ROUND A BOUTS IN FLAGLER COUNTY!!!! They are confusing and create more problems then not. Is this a sneaky move to later put in check points? Florida has more round a bouts than any other state in the nation. There are no problems here in Flagler County that guard rails and lights can’t fix. McLaughlin, Ericksen, O’Brien, Hansen and Sullivan we expect you to stop this and listen to us the people. If Coffey is behind the manipulation then fire his ass!! We all know he has his own agenda and treats not only you commissioners but us voters and tax payers like crap.
L Section says
The red light would definitely be cheaper but may not solve the real problem. Most of the accidents at the US 1 Matanzas Woods Parkway seem to be at the North Eastern corner. A stop light will not prevent a right on red turn into fast oncoming traffic. Roundabout cost is extensive but quite possibly is the safest solution. With construction may bring new businesses making the roundabouts further feasible.
Scott Batson says
Many people confuse other and older styles of circular intersections with modern roundabouts. High speed, east coast rotaries, large multi-lane traffic circles (Arc D’Triomphe, Dupont Circle), and small neighborhood traffic circles are not modern roundabouts.
The Brits even call a merry-go-round a kid’s roundabout.
Go to http://www.k-state.edu/roundabouts/photos.htm to see pictures.
What is, and is not, a modern roundabout:
WA DOT: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsCoI7lERGE
NJ traffic circles: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_traffic_circles_in_New_Jersey
NJ wins award for building roundabout:
Scott Batson says
People using the road make mistakes (like running stop signs and red lights), always have and always will. Crashes will always be with us, but they need not result in fatalities or serious injury.
Modern roundabouts are the safest form of intersection in the world – the intersection type with the lowest risk of fatal or serious injury crashes – (much more so than comparable signals). Modern roundabouts require a change in speed and alter the geometry of one of the most dangerous parts of the system – intersections. The reduction in speed and sideswipe geometry mean that, when a crash does happen at a modern roundabout, you usually need a tow truck, not an ambulance. Visit the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for modern roundabout FAQs and safety facts. Roundabouts are one of several proven road safety features (FHWA).
The life saved may be your own.
Modern, slow and go, roundabout intersections have less daily delay than a stop light or stop sign, especially the other 20 hours a day people aren’t driving to or from work (it’s the #2 reason they’re built). Average daily delay at a signal is around 12 seconds per car. At a modern roundabout average daily delay is less than five seconds. Signals take an hour of demand and restrict it to a half hour, at best only half the traffic gets to go at any one time. ‘At best’ because traffic signals must have the yellow and all red portion (6+ seconds per cycle) for safety, and modern roundabouts do not. At a modern roundabout, drivers entering from different directions can all enter at the same time. Don’t try that with a signalized intersection.
Steve Jones says
flagler county spends sooo much money on unnecessary road improvements and parks and community centers etc i have never seen so much needless waste of money in my life.