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A roundabout solution to city traffic

Tomorrow, council will examine a new report that shows roundabouts are safer and faster than standard intersections.

Four aging intersections in the HRM could be turned into roundabouts.

Tomorrow, council will examine a new report that shows roundabouts are safer and faster than standard intersections.

In fact, Transport Canada is urging all municipalities to consider roundabouts where appropriate, and the province has plans to build 16 of them in 2010.

While roundabouts are safer and faster for drivers, Halifax North End Coun. Jerry Blumenthal said he’s worried about pedestrians.

“The pedestrian right-of-ways are a little to the left or the right of the roundabout, but I still worry about the pedestrian traffic and that’s what scares me about these,” said Blumenthal about a proposed roundabout in his district at Devonshire Avenue, Duffus Street and Novalea Drive.

“I’ve not closed my mind on it, but I want to make sure this isn’t going to be the first one because there’s no need here compared to Robie Street and others with the amount of traffic.”

Roundabouts are seen to be safer for drivers because motorists drive more slowly and make simpler decisions. There is also a lower risk of head-on collisions because of a reduced right angle.

And since cars are moving instead of idling, there is also an environmental benefit to roundabouts, according to the study.

Authors of the report calculated commuters travelling through the Willow Tree intersection in downtown Halifax would save four and a half minutes in the afternoon rush hour if it were converted to a roundabout. That would save 20 hours a year.

Blumenthal said he’s not so concerned with saving drivers some time, but he’s worried about the seniors, students and young children in his riding who cross that intersection regularly.

Plus, it’s a money issue. It would cost around $350,000 to fix up the intersection as it is, but $1 million to convert it into a roundabout.

“To make a roundabout for $1 million in a time when we’re $30 million in the hole, they say later on it will pay for itself but I don’t know,” Blumenthal said.

 
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