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Are traffic circles in city's future?

Love roundabouts or hate them, the traffic control devices are becoming a more common thing. And Rosemount could see its second one this summer.

City staff will meet with the Independent School District 196 school board sometime in the next month or so to see if the district would be wiling to partner on the construction of a roundabout on Shannon Parkway near Shannon Park Elementary School.

Speed, traffic congestion and pedestrian concerns led staff to propose a roundabout at the intersection that leads into the school. While there haven't been any accidents at the intersection, city engineer and public works director Andy Brotzler said there have been a number of near misses and many complaints about the area.

While solutions such as adding turn lanes address some of the problems, Brotzler said the roundabout is the only proposed solution that will address all three issues.

The biggest concern on Shannon Parkway is speed through the intersection that leads to the school. Brotzler said a roundabout would force traffic to slow down to 15 to 20 miles per hour.

The speed limit on Shannon Parkway is 35. Brotzler said the city often receives complaints that people go faster than the posted speed limit and that it is dangerous.

To help with pedestrian issues Brotzler said concrete medians connected to the roundabout would provide a safe haven for people crossing the street, so pedestrians will only have to cross one lane of traffic at a time.

To address traffic congestion concerns, Brotzler said a roundabout should provide smoother entry and exit to the school during peak traffic hours when traffic can make driving around the school a nightmare.

Additionally, as a general rule, Brotzler said roundabouts help cut down on accidents and the severity of accidents.

"They provide increased safety," said Brotzler.

Not everyone is convinced though. The Shannon Park Elementary School Site Council has said it is opposed to the idea. Additionally, several people at a public hearing for the project spoke against a roundabout, expressing concerns about cost and actual safety.

While the council voted to hold discussions with ISD 196, several of the council members expressed some doubt about the project, including Kurt Bills.

Bills said while he's willing to hear further discussions, he's not comfortable putting a roundabout near an elementary school.

"I don't doubt the safety statistics that have been presented but I don't know if I'm ready to experiment with a roundabout next to a school," said Bills.

Bills also said he wasn't sure the project was worth the high cost. The cost for putting a roundabout at the intersection has been estimated at $500,000.

"If people are speeding then I'm of the school of thought that we should catch them and punish them instead of making everyone pay for it," said Bills.

Because roundabouts are fairly new in the area, Brotzler said he wasn't surprised by people's reaction to the proposal. He said getting people used to roundabouts is key.

"Our goal is demonstrate the value of a roundabout," said Brotzler.

Staff will present the information to the ISD 196 school board sometime in January. He said then it will be up to the board to decide whether it wants to partner with the city. The issue will be back before the city council sometime after that.