Roundabouts

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The first roundabouts in Minnesota were constructed in 1995 and the first roundabout in Rochester was constructed in 2002 on the intercampus road (UCR Drive SE) connecting RCTC and the Heintz Center. These traffic control tools are becoming increasingly popular across Minnesota. As of summer 2018, there will 10 roundabouts within Rochester (including state and county roads).

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Benefits of Roundabouts

  • Safety: An October 2017 study by the Minnesota Department of Transportation found that roundabouts have reduced fatal and serious
    injury crashes by 86% at intersections where they have been installed.*  

  • Better traffic flow: Traffic entering the roundabout yields to traffic already in the circle, which allows traffic to flow through the roundabout without stopping. Roundabouts are designed to slow traffic down to speeds of 15-25 mph.*

  • Better fuel efficiency and air quality: Studies have shown vehicle emissions and fuel consumption is reduced by 30 percent or more at intersections with roundabouts compared to intersections with traffic signals.
Modern Roundabout

<FHWA Modern Roundabout

 

Source: safety.fhwa.dot.gov

Click here for a video from the Minnesota Department of Transportation on the benefits of the roundabout system on Minnesota roadways and how they reduce injury crashes and fatalities, increase pedestrian safety, and lessen vehicle congestion and pollution.

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Where Roundabouts are Used

The decision to construct a roundabout is made after considering multiple factors and comparing them to other traffic control measures, such as a traffic signal. Factors considered include: safety, traffic flow, cost, surroundings, environmental impacts, and more. Roundabouts can be appropriate in a wide variety of settings from urban to rural, high traffic volumes to low traffic volumes, low-speed to high-speed roadways, and large intersections to fitting within an existing neighborhood intersection.

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Types of Roundabouts

There are different types of roundabouts that can be considered for intersections, often times based on the amount of traffic they experience: Mini-roundabouts are the smallest roundabouts. They are designed for areas with primarily passenger cars and low truck and bus traffic.

  • Mini-roundabouts function the same as single lane roundabouts, with the exception that buses and trucks travel over the center island in order to make their turns.
  • Single Lane roundabouts have only one traffic lane circulating around the center island. These roundabouts are considered the basic roundabout.
  • Multilane roundabouts have at least one approach that has two lanes or more. These roundabouts require wider roadways to accommodate more than one vehicle traveling side by side.

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Costs

Roundabouts have comparable initial construction costs as a traffic signal with the similar capacity. Construction costs can rise if Right-of-Way needs to be acquired. Once installed, a roundabout has a lower cost than a traffic signal.

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Resources

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*Source: Minnesota Department of Transportation