Roundabouts under scrutiny ahead of more planned for Lucas Co.

Roundabouts under scrutiny ahead of more planned for Lucas Co.

HOLLAND, OH (WTOL) - Roundabouts: Either you love them, or you hate them.

But no matter which way you lean on the subject, plans are in the works to bring more to Lucas County.

Lucas County engineers plan to put ten more roundabouts in western Lucas County by the year 2023, adding to the already existing 14 in the region.

"Safety is the biggest reason," said engineer Keith Earley on the reasoning for the additional roundabouts. "They also handle the traffic very well. Less congestion, less unnecessary stopping. Less greenhouse gases."

Drivers, however, are skeptical of how safe they really are.

"The roundabout – it looks nice, but honestly I think it's dangerous," said Toledo resident Marvin Burwell. "It should have at least a couple stop signs because everyone's brain processes things differently. And I don't think it's safe."

The roundabout located by Springfield High School is an example of how drivers still need to get acclimated with how to use them.

It was completed in November 2016 and, according to the Holland Police Chief, the first accident occurred the first day the roundabout opened.

After it's first full year of operation in 2017, police cited 31 accidents at the McCord Road roundabout. Conversely, before construction began, only six accidents were sited at the intersections of McCord, Hall and North Mall Drive in 2014.

In 2018, there have already been 11.

However, the accidents that were reported were not fatal, nor were they injury accidents.

"Whenever I see a serious or fatal crash at another intersection, one of those high-speed, high-impact crashes, I think that would not happen at a roundabout," Earley said.

The speed limit of 15 miles per hour is credited for that.

Matt Geha, the superintendent of Springfield Local Schools, can see the roundabout from his office window at Springfield High School, and says he has noticed the traffic flow has improved substantially.

Geha says he's seen many of these accidents play out, but says it has helped with traffic flow in and out of the school.

"I've been in the Springfield school district for 16 years, and this roundabout has really helped the school system control traffic at the end of the school day. It used to take extra adults to make sure we could get all of our transportation off campus, and now this roundabout has really helped with that," he said.

But for many, it's still a confusing concept, so Earley explains what to do as you approach the yield signs that are located at the front of all entry ways of roundabouts.

"They are yield signs. They are not stop signs," he said. "I would compare it to a low speed merge onto a freeway. You look left and you merge. It works better if you don't stop if you merge into the traffic," said Earley

And with 10 more roundabouts already funded for the next five years for western Lucas County, it would serve drivers well to get acquainted with the practice.

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