The intersection of High Street and North Broadway is in the news again. This time, it’s an alternate proposal from the community to build a roundabout at the intersection.
A Clintonville task force is proposing what members say would be the first urban traffic roundabout in Franklin County, at High Street and E. North Broadway.
In suburbs such as Dublin and Hilliard, roundabouts have reduced injury accidents and process traffic more efficiently than traffic lights, officials say. Columbus city officials say only that they are studying the Clintonville proposal.
The idea surfaced after Columbus proposed a $385,000 widening of a small stretch of E. North Broadway to accommodate a left turn lane onto High Street.
Westbound motorists who want to turn south onto High use side streets because North Broadway does not have a turn lane, said Mike McLaughlin, a Clintonville Area Commission member.
The seven-member task force that McLaughlin led recommended that the turn-lane project go forward, but that a roundabout should eventually be built, he said.
…The project would cost about $1 million, not including acquiring about 30 parking spaces from a Kroger parking lot on the northwest corner and land from a Starbucks parking lot at the northeast corner and demolishing a vacant commercial building on the southwest corner, Blazer said.
The complaint by residents that adding a westbound left turn lane could somehow increase the likelihood of North Broadway being widened all the way to Indianola hasn’t resonated with me. I think a turn lane could be added with very minimal impacts that would reduce delays at the intersection and solve the cut-through traffic problem for the residential streets in the neighborhood.
Despite that, this is an interesting proposal since there aren’t many examples of multi-lane modern roundabouts in urban locations in the US. The proposed drawing shows a big chunk of the already small Kroger parking lot gone along with the building on the southwest corner of the intersection. I wonder how Kroger feels about that? The estimated cost of the roundabout is $1,000,000, not including land acquisition. The proposed left turn lane is just $365,000. Other economic costs to consider include the cost of crashes at the intersection, vehicle delays, and fuel use.
From the safety perspective, roundabouts reduce crashes by 37% on average and injuries by 50%. Depending on the number of crashes that currently take place at the intersection, that could be a significant cost savings that would make up for the difference in land acquisition and capital costs over time. On the other hand, there is a big debate in the transportation engineering community about the safety of multi-lane roundabouts in an urban context. The sticking point seems to be visually impaired pedestrians. We’re not sure that drivers yield consistently enough to keep a blind pedestrian safe.
I would need to do some detailed traffic modeling, which means I would need turning movement volumes, to determine if delays will be reduced at the intersection or not. Roundabouts usually compare favorably with signalized intersections though. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out in Clintonville.