Saturday, October 22, 2011

Getting Round About Rolla

The use of roundabouts in Europe have been in existence for several decades, and in New England for over 40 years, but the recent construction of the new roundabout intersection at 18th and Forum Drive has motorists driving in circles.
But that is entirely the intention of this vehicular traffic device that is becoming more and more popular in the Midwest, and here in Rolla, Missouri where two additional roundabouts are being constructed by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) at the Kingshighway/I-44 Interchange. The addition of these two roundabouts, also referred to as a ‘dog bone’ configuration, brings the number of roundabouts to four in Rolla. The other roundabout, which has been operational for over two years, is located at the E Highway/I-44 overpass at White Columns Drive. The City was also recently notified that MoDOT has approved funding for yet a fifth roundabout at the Highway V/I-44 Interchange across from Love’s Travel Stop near the entrance to HyPoint Industrial Park.
While some folks are not altogether comfortable with the notion and use of roundabouts, there are no stop signs to halt traffic. Stop signs have been replaced by yield signs, and instead of a traffic light that folks have to wait for to turn green (and hope no one decides to run a red light), and that requires electricity, maintenance and funding, the new roundabout keeps things moving much more safely for motorists and pedestrians alike, for very little cost. And reducing costs, reducing accidents and injuries, and improving efficiencies on the road and in the environment, are always nice objectives to reach for as a community. In addition, if lighting strikes, or there is an unexpected power outage, traffic continues to move without a glitch in a roundabout. These are just some of the positive aspects and benefits of a roundabout. That said, motorists approaching a roundabout for the first time will most likely have some apprehension, if not confusion regarding how to proceed into and through a roundabout. Fortunately, thanks to technology and the Internet, if you wish, you can view a very well produced video (by the Missouri Department of Transportation) on roundabouts on the City’s Website at
The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) video explains that roundabouts are designed to get a lot of traffic through an intersection without a lot of waiting; a one-way circle of traffic with yield signs at each entry point; they are easy to navigate thru and safer to use than traditional traffic intersections. A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says roundabouts reduce collisions of all types by 39%; injury collisions by 76% and fatal and incapacitating injuries by 89%. The reasons for these safety improvements, (as explained on the MoDOT video), for both motorists and pedestrians include: slower traffic speeds, smaller collision angles and fewer conflict points (spots where vehicles could collide). 
While we are the topic of traffic and driving safely, I’d like to take this opportunity to mention that children and the public will be out and about during the evening hours Monday, Oct. 31, which of course is Halloween. One of the most challenging aspects of this holiday from a safety aspect is that it is celebrated during pre-dawn and night time hours, and many of the children who are out in the neighborhoods are often dressed in dark clothing. So please be extra cautious on Halloween and keep an eye out for pedestrians crossing the street and sidewalks.
I would like to remind everyone that on Monday, Oct. 31 the downtown merchants and businesses will host the annual trick or treating on Pine Street from 5-7 p.m. Also on Monday, Oct. 31, Rolla City employees at The Centre, Rolla Police Department, Rolla Fire & Rescue (Fire Station #2/Eugene Northern Community Hall), and Rolla City Hall will be passing out candy and greeting guests beginning at 5 p.m. Your children’s safety and the safety of the public is the City’s number one priority on Halloween night, so please stay safe while you are enjoying the various festivities around town.  
In closing, I’d like to remind everyone that the 4th annual “Operation Neighborhood Clean-up” will be held on Friday, Nov. 4 in the area referred to as the Huffman Trailer Park and Johnson/Laird sub-division (located near the corner of Pinetree Road and Hwy. 72). All volunteers are asked to attend the welcome gathering at 6:30 a.m. at Carpenter’s Union Hall located at Hwy. 72 and Richard Dr.  A complimentary breakfast will be provided. The clean-up will take place from 7 a.m. to 12-noon. The entire community is invited to participate in this beautification effort, which is once again being coordinated by the Rolla Area Ministerial Alliance and the Rolla Police Department. The clean-up effort will involve tree trimming, hedge trimming, and the removal of brush piles, household items and trash.
Groups or individuals interested in volunteering should contact Chris Foster, Associate Minister at Greentree Christian Church, at 364-2649 or, or Officer Vince Giacolone at the Rolla Police Department at 308-1213 or at
Enjoy the beautiful fall weather and have a safe week!

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