Des Moines staging a roundabout revolution
Roundabouts would be added along Hickman, Merle Hay and East Army Post roads under street improvement plans that go before city boards this week.
Why it matters: These are among the busiest streets in Des Moines.
- If approved, they'll bring dramatic change to the metro's transportation network, embracing a national movement The Washington Post calls the "roundabout revolution."
Details: Hickman's roundabouts would be constructed at the intersections of 18th Street and Prospect Road.
- A Merle Hay roundabout would be located at the Urbandale Avenue intersection under proposals that go tomorrow before the city's Transportation Safety Committee.
Meanwhile, the City Council is expected to approve a $500K grant today from the state for an East Army Post roundabout at the Southeast 36th Street intersection.
State of play: The changes are part of an ongoing effort to reduce accidents.
- Lane reductions and sidewalk or recreational trail improvements would be included in most of the proposed areas.
Be smart: Roundabouts improve traffic flow, are safer for pedestrians and better for the environment, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
- Initial skepticism about the systems has largely turned into widespread community support after drivers become familiar with them, multiple studies cited by the Institute show.
The big picture: The number of U.S. roundabouts is not tracked by federal agencies, but a database maintained by Oregon-based engineering firm Kittelson & Associates shows they've increased from fewer than 1,000 in 2003 to around 9,000 today.
Zoom in: There are more than 60 roundabouts in Iowa, according to data from the Iowa Department of Transportation.
- Multiple metro suburbs have them but there's currently only one in DSM — on Gannett Avenue near the airport.
What they're saying: Tom Cameron, Prospect Park Neighborhood vice president, tells Axios he's in favor of the city's roundabout plan near his home along Hickman.
- Cameron was not initially a fan of a roundabout in Johnston but found it was safer and didn't ultimately slow his work commute.
Of note: Hickman and Merle Hay's projects are anticipated to start in two or three years.
- Construction of the Army Post project could begin next year.
Editor's note: This story’s photo caption has been corrected to note the roundabout is on Northwest 62nd Avenue, not 70th.
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