PennDOT to redraw proposed Carroll roundabout

July 18, 2013
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Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter
Motorists along Route 88 approach its intersection with Route 837 where PennDOT is proposing to construct a new roundabout. Order a Print
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The original proposed roundabout to improve the Routes 88 and 837 intersection in Carroll Township

The state Department of Transportation will redraw a proposed roundabout on Route 88 in Carroll Township following numerous complaints about the plan that would have devoured the prime parking spaces at a supermarket.

PennDOT plans engineer Liberty Hill said Thursday the department is listening to concerns about the circular intersection, some of which have come from highway engineers across the country, while others locally involved the impacts to Fisher Heights Giant Eagle.

“We’re reviewing the design to lessen the negative impacts to (the Giant Eagle) property,” Hill said, adding PennDOT also is still considering improving the intersection by just adding turning lanes at traffic signals, he said.

“That’s a good thing,” said Archie Allridge, an owner of the Giant Eagle at Routes 88 and 837. “That’s probably the best way to go, just widen the lanes.”

He complained the first roundabout PennDOT recently displayed to the public would have put him out of business by gobbling up 40 parking spaces at or near the entrance to his business.

Opposition to the roundabout also has been voiced by the local police, fire officials and township supervisors.

One complaint about the roundabout being too large for the site came from John Burnside, a retired engineer in Big Oak Valley, Calif., who has designed them since 1985.

“It’s way overkill,” said Burnside.

He said the radius on the PennDOT drawing of the circular intersection is nearly twice the size it needs to be and does not define its lanes of traffic.

A PennDOT executive said Monday the department is instructed to build roundabouts because they are safer and don’t require motorists to come to a stop, allowing for a smoother flow of traffic. As of Monday the roundabout was still the preferred option for the intersection.

“That doesn’t mean the plan won’t change,” the executive, Rachel Duda, said Thursday.

Burnside said the photo illustration that accompanied a story Monday in the Observer-Reporter ended up being discussed in a private email group of 400 roundabout designers and every comment there agreed the Carroll one is too large.

Burnside said he is redrawing a smaller roundabout at routes 88 and 837 for PennDOT.

He said roundabouts will be a “learning process for all drivers” in a state such as Pennsylvania, where they are uncommon.

There still be will rear-end accidents at the one in Carroll, if built, and their numbers may increase in the second year, but crashes in roundabouts are typically less severe than those that take place at traditional intersections.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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