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Monday, February 23, 2009

Roundabout Ruckus in Green Bay

The City of Green Bay is hashing out adding six roundabouts to Military Avenue. The decision has already been considered and approved, reconsidered and reapproved, but still the opponents fight on.

Let it be known I like roundabouts, I detest having to come to a stop for one car held up by a red light in the crossroad when they could have proceeded without hindrance a minute previous my arrival. Of course, you stop, they go, and you wait, wait, and wait. Then the old E = ½mv2 formula kicks in. Of course, sometimes you just get caught by the timer and watch an empty intersection. Stew on that the next time gasoline is $4.00/gallon or while you are in a hurry. If you don't have to stop, why stop?

Anyway my purpose here is mainly not to argue for or against roundabouts, but to inform and discuss about how the opponents are planning to overturn this decision by the Green Bay City Council.

Jerry Bader this morning is talking about the plans A, B, and C for rolling back the roundabout proposal.

Plans 1, 2, and 3 (A, B, and C respectively):

  1. The GB City Council will have to come up with project financing (most likely a paper sale) and will shortly vote on that. Opponents have 30 days after the financing plan is approved to force a binding referendum on the funding plan.

  2. An ADA lawsuit. A Michigan attorney contends roundabouts violates The Americans with Disabilities act. The argument focuses on the inability of blind people to safely cross roundabouts

  3. Lastly a recall — mainly targeted at Mayor Jim Schmidt

Here is what I say to all three such arguments — mainly with a view to general appropriateness & likelihood of success.

  1. This approach is the strongest plan they have and far and away the most appropriate. The citizens of Green Bay may decide they do not want their money to be spent or sell paper for this project. I have zero qualms & problems with this angle of attack. It is straight to the question and gives the citizens of Green Bay another check upon their city government.

  2. This is nothing extra engineering and cost can not overcome. There is nothing fundamental to a roundabout that prevents the blind pedestrian from crossing them. Try again. Plans for a given roundabout may be deemed in violation of the ADA but then the city & engineering firm just adds features that make roundabout intersection safe for the blind.

  3. This is a wholly inappropriate and extreme measure. I do not think a recall will happen nor do I think a majority of people in Green Bay will support it. Recall for reasons of corruption and outright incompetence, not because of disagreement over a roads project.

Opponents of the new College Avenue bridge in Appleton worked their opposition through the city council and via referendum, where they lost and lost. This bridge is currently under reconstruction (Thank God, I am glad for it!). However, I think the roundabout opponents in Green Bay have a fairly realistic shot about getting this project canceled or delayed.

I understand roundabouts are fairly new to the area & region so people are not quite certain how to deal with them.

Prior entering, traffic in the roundabout has the right of way. If the roundabout has multiple lanes and you are going left take the inside lane and prior exiting signal and clear your blindspot, if all is safe exit. If you are going straight I always opt for the center or right lane (if no center lane is present) and again signal - clear - exit. Right is easy stay in the right lane - signal - clear - exit (yes I am a fanatic about clearing my blindspot). Yes, it is possible to be cut off and if that happens take another spin through it. In my six years of heavy roundabout driving getting cutoff in the roundabout maybe happened once a year.