Roundabouts are a proven road option

Safety has always been the No.1 priority for Washington County, and a new tool, the modern roundabout, is at the forefront of safe intersection design. The Radio Drive Safety and Mobility Project includes a modern roundabout at the Radio Drive and Bailey Road intersection.

Though over 300 modern roundabouts have been constructed in the United States since 1990, they have been slower to catch on in Minnesota, resulting in many drivers being unfamiliar with them. While modern roundabouts are a circular intersection, they are not a traffic circle. Traffic circles are an outdated design that allowed high speeds and forced some vehicles to change lanes in the circle. Roundabouts operate differently and can provide significant safety benefits over traffic circles and traditional intersections.

Because of their circular design, the number of intersecting vehicular paths, or conflict points, is reduced by 75 percent. Additionally, roundabouts are designed to slow traffic to approximately 20 mph, lessening crash severity and increasing reaction time, which allows drivers to avoid crashes.

Roundabouts reduce delay because traffic keeps moving, whereas at a signal, at least one approach is stopped. Studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and others have shown that roundabouts reduce intersection delay by 20 percent and 50 percent where they replaced signals or stop signs.

Roundabouts are a different intersection type and some drivers will need time to adjust. Once the adjustment is made though, I am confident you will find roundabouts will provide a safer and more efficient way to make it through a busy intersection. To learn more about roundabouts I encourage you to go to the Washington County Web page, at, and click on “Find out about road construction”. You could also call the County Transportation and Physical Development Office at 430-4337. Then take a drive to Maplewood at Frost Avenue and English Street, or Hudson, Wis at the Highway 35 and Hanley Road interchange to try out some roundabouts.

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