Donna Downs looked at a scale model of the proposed roundabout at Fifth Street and Edmonds Drive during an information meeting Tuesday, and decided its revamped design was still too small.
"I really think the roundabout's a good idea, but it's way to small," Downs said. "People are scared to death of it. People drive way to fast, and they do need to be educated."
Her husband, Steve Zuelke, took her comments one step further and said driving in the roundabout was like "playing a game of Russian Roulette."
"Every time you take a spin, you're risking you life," he said. "Everybody who lives there and goes through it on a daily basis knows how to use it. I don't think it's the people who live out there that cause the problems. It's the other people who use it as a short cut from the north to the south."
About 40 roundabout supporters and opponents milled about the Community Center on Tuesday during a public meeting set through residents' complaints about the traffic circle.
City supervisors were to decide May 18 whether or not to approve the contract for building a permanent roundabout. After some emotional public comment, supervisors opted to let the final design for the traffic device go through one more round of public comment. Supervisors will make their final decision on the roundabout Thursday.
Many people who spoke at the meeting agreed the roundabout improved the congestion once found in the intersection, but most arguing against the traffic device said the lack of driver familiarity creates dangerous driving situations. Speed limits are ignored, and public safety is sacrificed for the convenience of moving traffic faster.
"I'm not against traffic circles," said Marsh Road resident Winston Sellers. "But we've learned to drive very defensively. I've had a number of small scares. We're not so dumb we can't learn to use a roundabout."
Others argued that driver education and posting and enforcement of speed limits would solve most of the problems.
"I tend to drive a lot differently than I used to," said River Knolls resident Leif Anderson. "One of the problems with the roundabout is with the temporary design. It should have been made permanent as soon as the funding was available. The other problems are from people driving through there too fast. They're the people you've learned not to go through a green light for because someone will run the red light. Their habits are not going to change. People need to be educated."
"We've lived (on Pinon Hills Road) since 1987 and we've seen the intersection go from a flash, to a four-way stop to the roundabout," Mary Beth Swope said. "For that intersection, the roundabout is fantastic. It's only busy at certain times.
"The big concern here is people need to be more educated on how to drive."
The cost of the roundabout was about $85,000 higher than estimated. It will cost $205,724. The roundabout was estimated at $120,000 when city transportation officials decided to make it permanent. A stop light for the intersection is estimated at $180,000.
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 because 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 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 estimated to be cheaper than a traffic signal.
If you go
What: Carson City Board of Supervisors meeting
When: Thursday, 8:30 a.m.
Where: The Community Center's Sierra Room, 851 E. William St.