Getting The Runaround



Rim country residents are less than excited about the prospect of having to navigate a roundabout every time they head north out of Payson on the Beeline -- or to their new home improvement emporium for a 2-by-4.

Despite assurances from ADOT and the town that once we try it we'll like it, we Rimaroos are pretty set in our ways. We figure if God meant for us to drive through roundabouts with a brass elk in the middle, he would have made elks out of brass to begin with.

But let us pause to bring the slow readers among us up to date. With The Home Depot nearing completion at Highway 87 and Houston Mesa Road, construction has begun on the Rim country's first roundabout.

While roundabouts, or traffic circles, have been common in Europe and other foreign places for decades, they are a relatively new phenomenon here in the U.S. As LaRon Garrett, town public works engineer puts it, a traffic signal is based on the "stop concept," while a roundabout is based on the principle of yielding.

You yield to cars already in the circle when you enter and then you make a desperate lunge for the street you want when it's suddenly right on top of you -- or you go round-and-round forever.

The Roundup's very own Felicia recently moved here from Southern California, where roundabouts are fairly common, and she says they are a major pain. Of course, Felicia thinks a lot of things are major pains so we must continue our search for truth.

The Roundup's Marge has driven through roundabouts in Southern California, and she thinks they're a major pain too. Of course, Marge lives on a solid diet of tomatoes, the acid content of which can leave one rather jaded.

Which of course means we must turn to the Roundup's Jay for the definitive truth about roundabouts.

Jay's experience is limited, but he thinks they would be a pretty nifty way of keeping our young people from fleeing Payson at the earliest opportunity. If, he allows, we put a roundabout at each end of town, they would create a kind of boomerang effect and just sling people back around and head them back into town.

"People would wonder if they're living in a parallel universe," Jay observed.

So our Roundup jury is out on the efficacy of a Roundabout -- way out. But we can certainly have an intelligent discussion about the gateway the town council has approved for the area in the center of the roundabout.

To begin, let us pause to bring the slow readers among us up to date. At the last meeting of the Payson Town Council, a proposal was approved that would create, in the 106-foot center of the roundabout, a gateway to Payson. Paid for by contributions, it would include 3-foot-high letters spelling "Payson" and the aforementioned brass elk.

Somebody at the council meeting suggested the elk could be replaced by a statue of Public Works Director Buzz Walker pointing at his crowning achievement, Blue Ridge Reservoir. Seeing as some misguided hunter is bound to take a shot at the elk one foggy day, we think this might not be a bad idea.

A Star Valley wag went so far as to suggest that Buzz could be pointing at Star Valley with his other hand. Yet another allowed as to how Buzz's statue could serve as a weather vane, pointing in whichever direction the wind blows.

But we think it's unfair to single out Buzz for deification when there are so many more appropriate symbols of our community to immortalize in the roundabout median:

  • It was The Home Depot that started all this, so why not use the little cartoon guy who appears in their ads for the gateway statue.
  • Heroes are hard to come by these days, so how about a statue of Jack Babb, former town fire marshall, striking the very pose he did that infamous night at the Ox Bow Saloon when he incurred former Mayor Ken Murphy's wrath for enforcing the occupancy limit.
  • Or the statue could be of a smart-mouthed Beeline Cafe waitress holding out a carafe of coffee. Nothing says "Welcome to Payson" any better.
  • But then I could also see a giant brass replica of a Payson Concrete & Materials cap, the symbol by which we are known near and far.

The possibilities are endless, but whichever way we go Jay has one request. He'd like to see us put an all-weather mini-cam there as well.

He figures watching motorists navigating the roundabout will be a lot more entertaining on a warm summer's night than watching his bug zapper.

And maybe the last word should go to Richard, our publisher, who accidentally referred to the roundabout as a "run-around."

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