The intersection of Kane Creek Boulevard and 500 West can be confusing, especially to tourists who aren’t familiar with the area. Moab City Engineer Rebecca Andrus is hoping that the installation of a mini-roundabout at the intersection will help simplify things for everyone.
Andrus said earlier this month that the city plans to install the new feature as part of a $1 million road construction project scheduled to begin on 500 West in the summer of 2015.
“We went through several options for that intersection,” she said. “The best is to use a mini-roundabout.”
In general, Andrus said, roundabouts are not popular. However, many people are confused about what an actual roundabout entails, she said.
“Not all circular intersections are roundabouts,” Andrus said.
A true roundabout features an island in the center that allows traffic to flow in a counter-clockwise direction. Each entrance and exit point features a “splitter” island that helps direct traffic, she said.
Studies have shown significant decreases in the number of collisions at intersections with roundabouts, according to Andrus.
“There is a 60 percent decrease in the number of injury crashes and over an 80 percent decrease in fatal or incapacitating crashes,” she said. “Most of the crashes that occur in roundabouts are property damage only.”
The mini-roundabout design under consideration features a “mountable” center island, meaning that there is no signage or landscaping on it.
“It has a 2-inch lip, and it raises up to 5 inches in the center,” she said. This allows larger trucks to drive over the center island if they’re too big to maneuver through the smaller roundabout.
The mini-roundabout wasn’t the only option considered. The city also drew up plans for making the intersection a three-way stop, however that would require an increased city right-of-way in the area, she said.
“We’d end up in the property owned by the gas company,” she said. “They’d have to move some very expensive equipment.”
Moab City Manager Donna Metzler said that the right-of-way issue is a major factor in the decision.
“It’s extremely important for this project after what we’ve gone through to get what we have,” she said.
“This is less complicated than anything else,” Andrus said. “It’s the only design that would allow through movements without stopping.”
Andrus said there will be an adjustment period while people who are used to the current configuration learn the new one, but that would be true regardless of how the intersection was changed.
She said that people tend to oppose roundabouts until they’re installed.
“Once they’re in, people realize how easy they are and they start to want them everywhere,” she said. “This makes it a lot simpler. It makes it a lot easier. It makes it a lot safer.”