Europe welcomed roundabouts

A native of England and proud resident of Elk River for 14 years, I applaud the forward thinking by our planners in considering the use of roundabouts, an intersection structure proven advantageous in thousands of locations throughout Europe over five decades. The benefits include the elimination of path-crossing of intersecting traffic, racing starts, red light infractions and clumping; the simplification of intersection rules to a simple “yield to the vehicles already on the intersection”; and a huge reduction in energy and time wasted by stationary traffic and in the cost of installation, operation, monitoring, optimization and maintenance associated with light-controlled intersections. Simple street lights — present at light controlled intersections anyway — suffice to illuminate a roundabout. The only disadvantage of roundabouts is the increased land use, though of all the developed countries in the world, the U.S. is the least impacted by that. To alleviate this problem and speed future transitions we must stop placing buildings close to the corners of intersections, because that makes transition to roundabout intersections more difficult.


I would suggest, however, that a better introduction of this technology would be at conventional square intersections where congestion clearly needs to be reduced and where motorists will appreciate its value while learning to negotiate it. Several such options abound, such as Main Street/County Road 12 and Line/Zane avenues, Jackson Avenue and School Street. But for the lack of land, Main Street and both Highway 10 and Parrish Avenue would be excellent choices.

Dream locations — where roundabouts naturally reduce traffic speed, thereby increasing safety — include Highway 169 and School Street or Main Street, though the planning and funding efforts have greater scope and present strategic difficulties.

Challenges notwithstanding, we are moving forward, and the increased road safety roundabouts generated will benefit us all. Bravo, Elk River! — Julian Opificius, Elk River

(Editor’s note: The following are comments that were posted by readers of the Star News’ online edition at The second set of comments were posted by readers of Star New Online, the Star News’ Facebook site.)

John Gall

We’re spending money to put a roundabout here to educate the public? How about put one in where it might be needed and save the money? This has been fine for years even it if is awkward. I’d think we have better things to spend taxpayer dollars on. Or better yet don’t spend tax payer dollars by that amount.

Bill Henke

Maple Grove has a number of roundabouts.. get with the times!! 🙂

Erik Steven Pace

A city without a roundabout is no city deserving of any kind of respect. Build a roundabout Elk River.

Rachel Gowdy

If they don’t build a roundabout there, they at least need to put up a sign at that says “oncoming traffic doesn’t stop” or one that says “not a 3-way stop”. That intersection is horrible.

Asa Veek 

Wha? Why? Is it because roundabouts are what all of the cool suburbs are now doing? We’re not Europe. We don’t have narrow streets that have been there for 600 years.

A better solution would be to decommission Railroad Drive between 3rd and Main St. It’s not a useful road anymore (especially since RR Drive was closed off between Main St. and Gates Ave…..and Hagen’s moved out to the “new” Elk River Mall).

Lindsey Veek Hasford

I disagree Asa Veek. I think that the road is quite valuable. I use it all the time. I’m actually not against the idea of the roundabout there. If they removed the mailboxes there I would be less apt to go that way, however.

Asa Veek 

I guess I feel it’s a bit shortsighted. That part of town needs to be redesigned to be of value for the long-term. I’d much rather find ways of connecting that part of downtown with the portion on the other side of Hwy 10 (be it a walking tunnel, a foot bridge, etc.). Now that the Postal Service’s retail operations have moved, the boxes down there could go, as well, and then most of the issue goes away.

Del Zartner

But roundabouts are so much fun!

Jesse Veek

people in this town can’t even get the hang of the middle turn lane let alone a round about how about they move the mail boxes then they would not need it at all

Jon Bunker

Roundabouts and metered ramps are a grievous evil under the sun.

Aaron Veek

The city engineer says it’s to get people used to using one so they can build one at Parish at Main. Asa’s right, though, if they’re planning on pulling the mailboxes (which it sounds like they are in the article) Railroad Dr needs to be decommissioned between 3rd and Main (it’s just that little bit that goes past the legion).

The Parish-Main issue could be solved easily with some creative use of one-ways downtown…

 Asa Veek

I am in total agreement, Aaron. Actually, what would be interesting would be to reroute Main St. under Hwy 10 and the railroad bed and force all traffic east (north?) of 10. Then, turn Jackon into a walking tunnel under the railroad and Hwy 10, and route southbound/eastbound traffic into downtown from Proctor. Downtown now becomes southbound and eastbound only. Never happen, but it makes sense to me.

Erik Steven Pace

I forgot to note the sarcasm in my post. I’m not a fan of roundabouts; at all. I agree with Rachel that something must be done and Asa you are on the right track. I was actually just joking about Elk River needing a roundabout to be a “respectable” city. lol

Dawn McCurdy

There’s nothing wrong with that road. It’s a little weird, but I’ve never heard of an accident there. We could find something a whole lot more worthwhile to spend 3.7 million dollars on. Come on Elk River! It’ll be a cold day before I ever vote for a school or other tax levy if they waste this much money on this stupid project.

Diane Ryks

Hate roundabouts!


John Gall 

Seems like we’ve done alright for years and years with this as it is. Just put some mail in the other day. There is a stop sign at places that need them and I was able to just do a U turn and get back from where I came. No need for an expensive roundabout.

Stacy Snyder 

It seems a waste of money. Would love it if they try to keep it an old fashion town it used to be.

Jeff Collins 

Waste of money it is not needed. Never seen a problem at that intersection. Fix the problem at Main and Parrish intersection….whose plan was that anyways?

Holly Herman Wood 

I was hit at that intersection after dropping mail off because the woman at the stop sign by the post office building didn’t see me! They need to make some sort of change, if not a roundabout, then something else.

Jim Woelber 

I thought roundabouts were aimed at keeping main traffic moving while letting other traffic enter when safe and open…..IMO this does not fit either of these criteria as this is not a high traffic area, maybe improved higher visibility signage a better option.

Jim Woelber 

…….& something improved to where the post office drop boxes are so it does not look like part of the street like it does now

Kim Bg 

What a ridiculous waste of money!!! If the mail boxes are the issue, move them over to the side so they’re no longer in the middle of the road. How about painting some lines on the street and saving the cost of this roundabout.

Dean Thompson 

A roundabout at the Parrish and Main intersection would allow about 3 cars to cross if the roundabout is occupied with traffic from Parrish.

John Gall 

Parrish & Main makes more sense if you absolutely have money to burn.

Kim Bg

By the way, isn’t this where the projected new path for the train tracks is to be located? If that’s correct, you plan to install a roundabout on a road that’s not highly traveled and then what, tear it out in a few years when you move the train tracks north or has the plan to move the tracks been cancelled?? thx