Traditional Values, Progressive Thinking – September 21, 2016

Mayor Gary Graham

Mayor Gary Graham

Although summer does not technically end until September 21 this year, the start of school and Labor Day typically marks the changing of the season. With school back in session, we find ourselves once again in a more typical routine, at least in regards to our daily travel schedules.

With more routine travel schedules, we more often see typical morning and afternoon rush-hour traffic jams. While I can’t say traffic is completely nonexistent in O’Fallon, one intersection with a great deal less congestion this year is at the intersection of Milburn School Road and Simmons Road, where the new roundabout was completed and opened on August 5, 2016.

This area long had issues with traffic, and as more homes continue to be built in northern O’Fallon, the problem was only to get worse.

I think now is a good time to discuss the advantages of roundabouts and their proper navigation.

The City of O’Fallon currently has five roundabouts, which are located at:

  • State Street & Obernuefemann Road
  • Old Vincennes Trail & Seven Hills Road
  • Porter Road & Simmons Road
  • Milburn Road & Merriam Parkway
  • Milburn Road & Simmons Road

Here are a few simple guidelines to remember when driving through a roundabout:

  • Slow down
  • Yield to pedestrians and bicycles
  • Yield at the entry to circulating traffic.
  • Stay in your lane within the roundabout and use your right-turn signal to indicate your intention to exit
  • Always assume trucks need all available space – don’t pass them!
  • Clear the roundabout to allow emergency vehicles to pass

O’Fallon roundabouts have made it safer for our residents as they drive through the City. In addition, they also help to mitigate traffic congestion and pollution.

The 12-months prior to construction began on the roundabout at Milburn School Road and Simmons Road, six accidents were reported. Although it is a small sample size, since the opening of the new roundabout on August 5, not one single accident has been reported to the O’Fallon Police Department.

O’Fallon’s first roundabout, located at the intersection of State and Obernuefemann, officially opened on July 14, 2008. In its first five years, the O’Fallon Police Department responded to a total of 22 accidents. Of those accidents, only one had injuries involved and only five resulted in a vehicle being towed. The statistics involving only one injury and minor levels of vehicle damage can be attributed to the low speeds that are required to safety navigate the roundabout.

In the 24-months prior to the roundabout at State and Obernuefemann, the Police Department handled a total of 24 accidents at the old intersection, all of which included multiple cars, approximately 50 percent involved injuries, and 15 resulted in a vehicle being towed.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, roundabouts have numerous benefits over conventional signaled intersections which include:

Increased safety

  • Up to 90% reduction in fatalities
  • 76% reduction in injury crashes
  • 30-40% reduction in pedestrian crashes
  • 75% fewer conflict points than four way intersections

Slower vehicle speeds (under 30 mph)

  • Drivers have more time to judge and react to other cars or pedestrians
  • Advantageous to older and novice drivers
  • Reduces the severity of crashes
  • Keeps pedestrians safer

Efficient traffic flow

  • 30-50% increase in traffic capacity

Reduction in pollution and fuel use

  • Improved traffic flow for intersections that handle a high number of left turns
  • Reduced need for storage lanes

Money saved

  • No signal equipment to install and repair
  • Savings estimated at an average of $5,000 per year in electricity and maintenance costs
  • Service life of a roundabout is 25 years (versus the 10-year service life of signal equipment)

Community Benefits

  • Traffic calming
  • Aesthetic landscaping

For more information about roundabouts, please go to http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/intersection/innovative/roundabouts/.

The strong working relationship between City Hall and the residents we serve is yet another example of why O’Fallon is such a great community in which to live.