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March 21, 2011

12

City proceeding with 14th and Superior roundabout against neighbors’ wishes

by Deena Winter

Winterized has obtained a copy of a survey that shows the vast majority of people who attended a meeting about building a double roundabout at 14th and Superior streets were opposed to the idea, but the city is going ahead with the project anyway.

According to a written and online survey conducted after a public meeting nearly one year ago, a whopping 62 percent of respondents opposed or strongly opposed the roundabout, while only 23 percent favored or strongly favored the concept. (The rest were undecided.) That has neighbors in an uproar over the news that the city intends to proceed with the $11 million double roundabout anyway.

After a public meeting about the roundabout, 151 people filled out a “comment survey” and another 62 people completed an online survey. Neighbors were concerned about middle school students running through the roundabout, people’s lack of familiarity with how to navigate roundabouts and how trucks would be able to get through the roundabout. Some people were convinced a roundabout would cause more crashes — although they’re widely credited with reducing crashes in intersections.

Devin Biesecker, who works in the engineering services division of the city public works department, acknowledged there was opposition to the roundabout concept versus a traditional intersection “in the beginning.”

“But taking the time to do an open house, a focus group to more deeply understand concerns, doing a school survey, and visiting with the trails committee and the Mayor’s Environmental group on the benefits of roundabouts, we think we were able to alleviate a number of those concerns,” he said via email. “There is certainly an intent to do additional public education about roundabouts and how the use of a roundabout will allow traffic to flow more smoothly at this very busy intersection and how it will allow pedestrians to move safely through this area as well.”

People were also given the option to expand the intersection by adding lanes, and 65 percent favored or strongly favored that option. I have a message into the city to see why they went ahead with the roundabout option, despite the neighbors’ preference. I’m hearing from a lot of angry residents about this, and I imagine the city is too.

I can say in my own experience using the 33rd and Sheridan street roundabout frequently to get to Southeast High School in the morning, it doesn’t do a great job of handling the huge volume of traffic coming from the south. Due to the large number of those northbound vehicles turning right or going straight, the traffic coming from Sheridan Boulevard is always able to sneak in to the roundabout, while a huge line of vehicles forms to the south. And although traffic engineers have said it really handles the traffic well, they’ve obviously not used it on a daily basis. But I do see where roundabouts would cut down on collisions.

The $11 million project also includes two “undercrossings” on bike trails along 14th Street and Superior Street — similar to the undercrossings near 33rd and Pine Lake Road and the two near 84th and Old Cheney,

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12 Comments Post a comment
  1. In the real
    Mar 21 2011

    Why don’t they listen to the people paying for it? I think they should do something with 48th and A Street and Cotner and A Street before that area, not pave the way for all those people living in the suburb in their new houses and get away with not paying wheel tax either. VOTE them all out!

    Reply
  2. Dan B
    Mar 21 2011

    I live close to both roundabouts on Sheridan blvd and they are great at times of low traffic, but the 40th street roundabout during rush hour is a nightmare and can take up to 10 minutes to get through if you are travelling South on 40th…I’ve seen traffic backed up within a block or two of Van Dorn. I also think it’s a bit dangerous for pedestrians trying to cross at those roundabouts..drivers are so concerned about getting their little slot of room that they aren’t looking for people trying to cross.

    Dan

    Reply
  3. Eric Bahm
    Mar 21 2011

    I have now lived near 36th and Pioneers for a year and drive through both 33rd and 40ths roundabouts everyday. While at peak times they do get what looks backed up they are still much less frustating then the stop and go I use to deal with traveling sumner st. Especialy better then the light at 48th and sumner. In fact outside of getting behind someone scared of the roundabout once in a while my only complaint is they are to small. If they where just a litle larger you would always beable to enter even if the car to your left just entered.

    Reply
  4. Annie
    Mar 21 2011

    Yes I think this to is ridiculous that just because I don’t make a 6 figure in come, that my voice isn’t going to be heard. EVEN though I too took that stupid SURVEY that yes they are not going to pay any attention to. Kinda like the Taxes in this town/ county. I am for making things better especially after waiting up to 15 to get through the 14th and superior area going south.

    Reply
  5. Ken
    Mar 21 2011

    Roundabouts are safer than intersections with traffic lights. No red lights to run. Therefore fewer accidents.

    There is no way that you wait 10 minutes to get through 40th & Sheridan. This is nonsense. Even at a busy time you will not wait one minute going in any direction. You will wait much longer at some of the traffic lights when you are on the minor road.

    Thiis will be a big improvement for everyone. Trust the people you pay to do this work.

    Reply
  6. ej
    Mar 22 2011

    To the people who are complaining because the city isn’t listening to them on this issue, if I walked into your workplace and started doing your job, how would I do? I don’t get what makes the general public think they know traffic engineering better than a traffic engineer. Sure, the traffic engineers have some colossal screw ups from time to time. But if they think a roundabout is the way to go in this situation, I defer to their expertise.

    I don’t know why the city would even conduct such a survey. We pay these traffic engineers/designers to do a job. Let them do their job.

    Reply
  7. Paul Mike Grieger
    Mar 22 2011

    In my opinion,
    This is the first step to the new front north door for the “Innovation Park.”
    A straight shot from the Interstate 80 exit directly to 14 th and cornhusker area.If you rememberm, a new round-about is planned for that intersection as well..

    Reply
  8. Jeffrey Poley
    Mar 22 2011

    Deena:

    In my experience, most of us are initially opposed to things with which we’re not familiar. I’m surprised that the survey outcome that you referenced was as positive as it was. As for the perceived inconvenience experienced by folks using Lincoln’s few roundabouts, I’ve noticed that folks will calmly wait forever for a light to change (56th and Old Chaney) but will go nuts if they have to wait for ten seconds to enter a roundabout.

    Jeff…

    Reply
  9. Sam
    Mar 24 2011

    I do not like roundabouts because of having to swerve right and then back left. I’d rather go straight. Whatever happened to that? I do not want us to become more like Europe. They have roundabouts everywhere. Political correctness has gotten way out of hand. We do not need another roundabout. This is another example of the nanny state. Do not go ahead with this.

    Reply
  10. natefrog
    Mar 30 2011

    Deena, since when has governance been solely a popularity contest? If that was the case, we wouldn’t have any taxes (after all, a majority of people hate taxes) nor would we have any benefits of public schools, emergency services, roads, etc. Being a good leader means doing what’s best, not necessarily doing what’s popular. (Nevermind the fact that not all comments and commentors are created equal; professionals and experts tend to be more credible.)

    Regardless, a quick internet search will show you the public tends to be 55-68% opposed to roundabouts before construction. After construction, the numbers flip with the public 63-73% in favor of roundabouts [ITE Journal, 2002]. Since roughly 62% of citizens taking a survey were opposed to our roundabout, I would say Lincoln is falling within the statistical average pretty well.

    Furthermore, the entire 2-mile widening project costs $11m, not just the roundabout. Please stop implying the roundabout alone will cost $11m. Misleading writing only calls into question your integrity.

    Reply
    • Mar 30 2011

      Natefrog: I don’t know if you’re a regular reader, but my first story on the roundabout, on March 16, was clear that it’s a two-mile project. My second story added the underpasses.

      Reply
  11. Judy
    Apr 4 2011

    Deena – We attended the meeting last spring, and were shocked that they didn’t even want any input from area residents. They “encouraged” us to fill out a survey, but wouldn’t even answer our questions. I can’t stress how strongly I am against a roundabout. After living in much larger cities, and dealing with Lincoln traffic for 13 years, I can just seem multiple car accidents closing the WHOLE thing at 7:30 on a Monday morning. People in the U.S. don’t know how to use a single lane roundabout – a multiple lane one is just one big accident waiting to happen.

    It may cost less money to build up front – but in the long run – by the time you get all the pedestrian walkways done — it will cost MORE!

    Reply

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