N. Douglas drivers are warned not to stop at roundabout

DOT: Halting in the middle of the rotary could cause accidents

Posted: Thursday, September 08, 2005

Drivers from north Douglas seem too polite for the roundabout that opened in August on the Douglas side of the bridge, according to a state traffic engineer.

"North Douglas drivers should not be stopping in the middle of the rotary," said Carolyn Morehouse, Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Southeast traffic and safety engineer. "They're trying to be friendly, but they're causing a dangerous situation."

Morehouse believes she understands why people approaching the traffic circle from the north are stopping. For years, people coming from the south showed them courtesy by letting them through.

It's a different sort of intersection now, and drivers from the north have the right of way, Morehouse said. A vehicle stopping in traffic while it has the right of way could get rear-ended, she added.

"People have to observe the signs," she said.

Juneau police Sgt. David Wrightson said people should always obey signs in traffic.

He said he doesn't know of any big problems at the traffic circle, but he has heard about drivers stopping. "They're trained to stop, I guess."

The traffic circle can be a little confusing at first, Wrightson said. He was prepared the first time he went through it, and preparation helps.

The concept, according to DOT/PF, is that cars enter the rotary intersection by driving into a circle that flows counter-clockwise. South Douglas traffic yields for oncoming traffic.

"It doesn't mean stop," Morehouse said.

Other than people from north Douglas stopping, the intersection seems to be doing what it was designed to do, she said. It slows speeds and moves traffic through the intersection where there was "a capacity issue."

Traffic on the Douglas side of the bridge wasn't flowing, she said. "It's not backing up the way it used to.

Rotary intersections are safer than signaled intersections that don't slow traffic, Morehouse said. The intersection at Egan Drive has traffic lights, but she added, "if we had room, it would be a rotary too."

• Tony Carroll can be reached at tony.carroll@juneauempire.com.

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