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Pros, cons aired about roundabout

Updated: 02/01/08 6:46 AM

State transportation officials want to install a roundabout at the intersection of Staley Road and Route 324 on Grand Island as a way to calm traffic, decrease delays and reduce serious injury accidents.

However, some residents attending a scoping session on the project Thursday were skeptical.

Ann Swiantek, of Timberlink Drive, wondered if the state Department of Transportation’s preferred alternative for improving that intersection might lead to bigger traffic snarls for motorists entering and exiting the Niagara Thruway during peak hours.

Roundabouts are “a good idea in cities, but not where people are coming off ramps at 55 miles an hour,” Swiantek said.

Swiantek was one of about 40 people who attended the scoping session in Grand Island Town Hall.

Thomas A. Romano of the DOT said improvements at the intersection are a priority because it has an accident rate that is 52 percent higher than those at similar intersections across the state.

An alternative to the roundabout plan would be to just upgrade the already conventional intersection.

However, Romano said that, in addition to calming traffic, a roundabout would greatly reduce the severity of accidents at the intersection.

“It would reduce a lot of the rear-end accidents,” said Romano. “A lot of that is due to the high speed of traffic going onto or off of the I-190.”

Rob Beach, a West River Road resident, said he has traveled throughout Europe, where roundabouts have become common measures for calming traffic.

“Germany is rebuilding almost all of their major intersections into roundabouts,” said Beach.

“As a motorcyclist and as a pedestrian in the villages where we stay, I cannot say enough about roundabouts. They are the safest intersections. They are, from a pedestrian standpoint, the most pleasant intersections to cross and they are the most civil,” Beach added.