Carson City Roundabout finished

Carson City saved about $13,000 for the recently finished roundabout at Fifth and Edmonds streets, although the cost of the roundabout was about $85,000 higher than originally estimated.

The traffic control device on the east side of the city has had its share of critics, but the new design is now a permanent addition to the intersection.

The new design is almost a circle which pulls all traffic into the circle before allowing a vehicle to leave the circle. The design slows traffic through the intersection, but allows it to move continually.

Linda Wear timed herself every morning during rush-hour traffic and it took her eight minutes to get through the intersection. With the roundabout, her wait dropped to one minute, she said.

"I love the roundabout," she said. "A lot of people don't understand how to use it. People yell, a lot of people wave their hands. Once you learn how to do it, you like it. It makes me much nicer and I don't get so angry."

"I think it's great," said Jack Ralph, who lives off Fifth Street and goes through the roundabout at least twice daily. "Too many people don't know how to use it. It speeds things up quite a bit and with the new design, people aren't going 40 mph through it like they did with the old one.

"It does what the city said it would do. Too bad they didn't do it sooner when it would have been cheaper, though. In the long run, it will be worth it."

Lorie Schaefer lives in the same neighborhood. She said a friend of her daughter's dropped by recently and complained that the roundabout lanes were so narrow, people had to slow down to get through the roundabout.

"That's the point," Schaefer said.

While Schaefer says the roundabout does move traffic more efficiently, she charges the city has done little to educate people how to use the device.

"We have rules internalized in how we drive," she said. "We need to learn more. I'm just waiting to see how people drive it. You can already see tire marks straight over the center.

"I don't think you can design something that's idiot proof. Having to suffer through a month of construction with the four-way stops reminded people how bad the four-way stop was. It's fine. It does move traffic faster."

Regent Court resident Mildred White said she could deal with the roundabout but said it was still early to tell whether the new design is an improvement over the old one.

"A signal probably would have done the same thing," she said. "But I didn't see the backup on Edmonds that is usually there."

The cost of the roundabout was about $85,000 higher than estimated. It ended up costing the city about $193,000, said Harvey Brotzman, Regional Transportation Commission engineer. The roundabout was estimated at $120,000 when city transportation officials decided to make it permanent. A stoplight for the intersection was estimated at $180,000.

Brotzman said the center of the roundabout has been outfitted for landscaping. He said landscaping will be added when a design and budget for it are approved.

The intersection has also had more accidents since the roundabout's construction in 1999, going from seven accidents in the intersection between April 1998 and March 1999 to 15 accidents between April 1999 and March 2000.

City transportation officials recommend the roundabout be built despite its cost. They said it decreases the time it takes to get through the intersection and moves traffic with significantly less congestion than the previous four-way intersection. The roundabout's efficiency could save the city money by delaying such projects as expanding Edmonds Drive to four lanes.

The temporary roundabout was installed in April 1999 as a Nevada Department of Transportation experiment. The city decided to make the roundabout permanent in September 1999 partially because it was expected to be cheaper than a traffic signal.


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