Click here to read about roundabouts in Minnesota.
by Joni Astrup
The finishing touches have been put on Elk River’s first roundabout.
Located at the intersection of Railroad Drive, Irving Avenue and Third Street near the old post office, the roundabout has been open but final striping and sign placement were not completed until Tuesday. No opening ceremony is planned, according to Elk River City Engineer Justin Femrite.
The new roundabout is designed as a “mini” roundabout, which provides for a smaller footprint while still accommodating larger trucks and buses, he said.
Femrite said it’s still a little early to tell how the roundabout will be received by the motoring public. All of the feedback so far has been around a project that was still under construction and not fully complete, he said.
“As expected with introducing any new concept in the city, so far we have had both positive and negative reviews of the new intersection,” he said.
Here are Femrite’s answers to three questions about the new roundabout.
Why did the city of Elk River put in a roundabout there?
“This intersection was selected for the placement of a roundabout because of the challenging geometric layout of all the streets intersecting there. The previous layout of the intersection included numerous vehicle conflict points and did not meet today’s design standards for safe control of vehicle movements. An alternative layout of a four-way stop intersection was evaluated during the preliminary design process but ultimately the roundabout was selected as a preferred option. A roundabout moves traffic in a safer and more efficient manner than a four -way stop intersection. “
What was the cost of the Elk River roundabout?
“$13,500 of our $3.2 million street improvement project in the area was invested in the roundabout. If the roundabout were to have been completed as a stand-alone project the costs would have been far higher. Since we were already replacing the curb, sidewalk and bituminous pavement with our street reconstruction project it was the best time to most cost effectively incorporate the roundabout.”
Do you have plans for any more roundabouts?
“A number of our planning documents identify future roundabouts at certain locations in the city, but we are not working on final design of any additional ones at this time.”
Sherburne County Public Works Director John Menter said there are no other roundabouts in the county and there currently are no plans for any.
They are, however, a very good idea in specific circumstances, he said.
One situation where roundabouts have been effective is at intersections with two-way stop signs, such as where a county road crosses a highway, he said.
“They significantly reduce, if not almost eliminate, the possibility for fatal crashes,” he said. “They are a safe alternative to a traffic signal.”
Menter said he looked at a roundabout in Scott County several years ago and has navigated one in Princeton several times, which he feels it has improved traffic flow.
“There are certain things that are key to making a successful roundabout like having adequate area and having decent turning radiuses particulaly for truck traffic. But if you can design and construct them correctly, I think they’re a really good idea,” he said.
City has roundabout brochure and blog
Elk River has produced a brochure, “Tips on How to Navigate Elk River’s New Roundabout. “
It is available online at www.elkrivermn.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=56
Copies of the brochure are also available at Elk River City Hall, 13065 Orono Parkway, for those who cannot access it on the internet.
The city also has a blog about the roundabout at www.elkrivermn.gov/CommunityVoice/