Having just returned from two weeks in New Zealand where traffic circles are prolific, I just have to ask "What is ADOT thinking?" Figuring out how to drive on the left side of the road was nothing compared to trying to negotiate traffic circles, especially the two-lane kind, which I believe is the same as what is being built here. I consider myself an excellent driver, experienced in driving in all conditions -- snow, ice, off road -- but I found traffic circles to be scary.
The main problem is that people here are not taught how to navigate them correctly, and if they are, there is no place to practice them to gain experience. Most traffic circles that I have seen here in the states are in low-traffic neighborhoods, not on major highways complete with tractor trailer rigs. I cannot imagine sharing the circle with one of those. When navigating a traffic circle, you have to think counter to the way you think at a signal intersection. That is, in order to get to the road on your left, you need to merge into the right lane as you make your way around the circle.
It was clear that even in New Zealand people there didn't know what the rules were. It was basically a free-for-all with manylose calls. In fact, I guess it has become so bad therehat during my visit they enacted and began enforcing a new law: it is a traffic violation if you don't signal your intentions when in a circle.
Locals who travel the road frequently will most likely figure it out, but as we know the majority of our population in the summer is transient, and since Highway 87 is a major highway, there is a lot of non-resident through traffic. In any case, sharing the circle with semis should prove to be quite the white-knuckle experience. I strongly disagree with ADOT's suggestion that this traffic feature will reduce accidents. Perhaps it will reduce T-Bones, but I believe it will significantly increase sideswipes and fender benders.
Didn't a traffic circle put in elsewhere in northern Arizona get ripped out and replaced with a signal intersection due to its high rate of collisions? I for one would be happy if it were just a plain old signal intersection.
Rick Washburn, Payson