Roundabout seems to be doing its job
There was a time, not so long ago, when the "new" roundabout on Highway 3 was an educational experience for drivers in Rosemount. These days, though, it's become more of a simple fact of life.
The roundabout -- which was a joint project among Empire Township, the city of Farmington, Dakota County and the Minnesota Department of Transportation -- will celebrate its two year anniversary in just a couple of months. It opened in September, 2008, though at the time traffic only had access to the intersection from three directions.
The concept of a roundabout received criticism from many residents, but Farmington city engineer Kevin Schorzman said nearly two years later, the roundabout is doing exactly what it's supposed to do -- control traffic without any significant accidents at the intersection.
There may have been a couple of fender-benders here and there, but the whole point to a roundabout is to prohibit traffic from entering an intersection at a higher rate of speed and from coming in at a straight line.
By design, motorists have to slow to enter the curved section of the roundabout. And since they are entering at a right-hand curve, they cannot strike other cars head-on or speed through an intersection and possibly strike a driver's or passenger side door.
"The lack of major incidents up there speaks well to how it functions and how people have adapted well to driving through it," Schorzman said.
The most recent traffic volume study for the area was completed in 2007, prior to the roundabout's construction. At that time, there were about 10,400 vehicles on that stretch of road on a daily basis. While Schorzman can't say whether those numbers have increased, he doubts the traffic counts have decreased.
"I highly doubt the installation has made people not drive there just to avoid it," he said.
The Highway 3 intersection was still the first of its kind on a major road in the Rosemount area.