Stoplight gives way to a roundabout in Tonawanda


TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) – Town of Tonawanda officials believe they are onto something—trying out a “temporary roundabout” in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. It is a two-day experiment to see how well the concept catches on, or does not catch on, with drivers.

Work crews spent Tuesday morning setting up the “mini-roundabout” at Parker Blvd. and Decatur Rd., spraying lines on the pavement with chalk-based paint, and setting up green stormwater booms as soft curbs to guide traffic. The stoplights at the intersection have been disabled for the two days.

Tonawanda’s Director of Community Development, Jim Hartz said research has shown, properly placed roundabouts can reduce traffic accidents by 50% to 75%, “It is about safety, but it is more about promoting public health, and encouraging safe bicycle travel on roadways, as well as creating safer pedestrian crossings.”

Town Engineer Jim Jones said the mini-roundabout is designed to fit within the intersection, with “mountable” curbs that large vehicles, such as trucks and emergency vehicles can drive over, and should be more pedestrian-friendly.

“The thing about the roundabout is they are slower and the crossing distance is much shorter–you are only crossing one lane at a time, and there is a pedestrian ‘refuge island’. So you look left and you look right, you do not have to look both ways at the same time.”

Town Councilman John Bargnesi concedes there may be doubters in the town, “We are trying to educate, and make people comfortable with the possibility of a roundabout being installed. It is strictly a demonstration project, informational.”

Bargnesi said the mini-roundabout is one of three proposals to improve traffic safety along Parker Boulevard in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. Other proposals call for a new stoplight that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which would include for audible signals for the visually impaired, or replace the stoplight with stop signs.

The town has also set up cameras to monitor traffic, and keep count of cars passing through, then after the two-day experiment, they will compile their data and see which plan works best.

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