CDOT works to straighten out roundabout confusion
West Glenwood’s roundabouts have changed their stripes. But will motorists change their driving habits?The Colorado Department of Transportation last week revised lane markings for the roundabouts at the Interstate 70 interchange.A principal problem has involved traffic heading east to the roundabout from the direction of the Glenwood Springs Mall.Vehicles entering the roundabout in the right lane are supposed to turn onto the westbound I-70 on-ramp. Instead, the majority continue on the roundabout. Those motorists should be entering the roundabout from the left lane instead.The problem is creating a backup in the right lane and a potential for accidents involving people not using the roundabout correctly.To try to clear things up, CDOT painted an 8-inch wide stripe between the approach lanes, to indicate the right one is a turn lane, said Bill Crawford, a CDOT traffic operations engineer in Grand Junction. Also, in the roundabout, double-white lines were added to guide vehicles onto the I-70 on-ramp. Double-white lines are not supposed to be crossed and are used to separate single-direction traffic.CDOT made a similar adjustment in the south roundabout on the other side of I-70. Double-white lines were added at the roundabout exit to the I-70 underpass so the right lane must exit.Crawford said many motorists are still using the northbound roundabout incorrectly, even after the restriping. He said new signs that should be in place within a few weeks should better help people understand the roundabout rules.Greg Jeung, a former Glenwood City Council member who has previously criticized CDOT over the roundabout confusion, said the new striping has helped.”I’m anxious to see the signs up, although it seems like signs out there are targets for big tractor trailers. There’s a few of them that are knocked down. But it’s a start,” Jeung said.City engineer Mike McDill, who is a supporter of roundabouts, had asked CDOT to clarify things in West Glenwood. McDill said there’s “no very good handbook” on building roundabouts.”The more we build them, the more we see ways to make them better all the time,” he said.Crawford said that although Colorado is building a lot more roundabouts than most other states, “I think we’re still learning a lot about them.”A roundabout fan himself, he said one challenge with the West Glenwood roundabouts is that they are neither two-lane nor one-lane, but a mix of both. Glenwood police chief Terry Wilson said he thinks one-lane roundabouts would have been better in West Glenwood because the roundabouts are small, and most motorists are only in the inner lane a few seconds before having to change lanes and exit.McDill also said it would have been better if an entirely separate lane was built from the mall area to the westbound I-70 on-ramp, so vehicles don’t even enter the roundabout. Crawford agreed.”I’m not sure why it wasn’t designed that way in the first place. I guess they thought people would comply,” Crawford said.Wilson said there probably have been five accidents at most on the roundabouts, and they usually occurred during lane changes. But in keeping with reputation of roundabouts, all the accidents were minor. Previously, the intersections that the north roundabout replaced saw more serious T-bone and head-on wrecks, he said.”I’d rather have three or four little sideswipers rather than one (accident) where people are injured,” he said.
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