Re-striped roundabouts worry officials
Rifle city officials are concerned that a lack of awareness over recent changes to the Rifle roundabouts south of Interstate 70 could confuse motorists.
Colorado Department of Transportation made the changes over the past several weeks to make the roundabouts in compliance with state standards, said Tracy Trulove, CDOT Region 3 Communications Manager.
The changes include newly painted directional arrows and re-striped lines clearly separating the lanes. However, some of those changes could confuse motorists acquainted with navigating the roundabouts, said Rifle Police Chief John Dyer.
Specifically, Dyer said he is worried about lane changes in the south end of the roundabout leading to Taughenbaugh Boulevard and Airport Road. The new lines completed on Tuesday force drivers in the outer lane to either exit the roundabout at Taughenbaugh Boulevard or merge into the inner lane to continue through the roundabout. The change could be confusing for drivers accustomed to continuing in the outer lane to access one of the many businesses, including Wal-Mart and Grand River Hospital, on Airport Road. A brief observation by The Citizen Telegram Tuesday saw several motorists attempt to continue through the roundabout in the outer lane.
“It comes up abruptly,” Dyer said. “You have to make a quick decision in the middle of the roundabout.”
Additionally, the arrows in the inner lanes when entering both roundabouts now point to the left. The new arrows are intended to signify that the inner lane is a continuous path through the roundabout, Trulove said. Motorists coming off the highway for gas or other reasons could interpret the arrow as a direction to turn left, which would be into oncoming traffic, Dyer said.
So far, Dyer is unaware of any formal complaints to the police department or traffic accidents caused by the changes. But it has been a regular topic in conversations with residents, he said.
At city hall, the changes to the roundabouts have been a topic of conversation since they were first noticed last week, said Kimberly Bullen, acting city manager.
Rick Barth, city engineer, said he contacted CDOT to see which entity had jurisdiction over the roundabouts. With the city lacking legal authority, it appears the best option is going to be to work with CDOT on better educating motorists.
The reaction is somewhat surprising, Trulove said. CDOT is making similar changes in roundabouts elsewhere, and has not received the same response, she said.
The decision to change some of the lanes is intended to improve safety in the roundabouts by limiting conflict points. While the change is designed to make the roundabouts safe, CDOT realizes change is not always comfortable for motorists, Trulove said.
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Newly hired Rifle Police Officer Kalob Foreman refers to the feeling as getting “Monday-morning quarterbacked to death.”