Complaints prompt MODOT to change roundabout design - KOAM TV 7

Complaints prompt MODOT to change roundabout design


A new roundabout on Highway 171 in Webb City, MO was completed not too long ago.  But confusion from drivers has already prompted MODOT to soon implement some changes.

Opinions about this new roundabout range from the good, the bad, to the ugly.

"It's progress," says St. Louis resident John Davis, who says studies show roundabouts handle traffic more efficiently and safely.

"I think they are good in very low traffic areas," says Pittsburg resident Victoria Johnson, who believes the new Webb City roundabout is in a too high of a traffic spot.

"It sucks," says Webb City resident Shelly Cave.

For those who steer towards negativity, there could be a dislike for any type of roundabouts in the first place.  But at the new Webb City roundabout, there's an additional, specific concern.

Before entering the two lane roundabout from eastbound and westbound 171, the only type of guidance for drivers is an arrow in the left lane that points both straight and to the left.

So when do you turn?

"It's kind of confusing," says Carterville, MO resident Diana Roland.

Common sense, based on how other roundabouts work, should lead drivers to turn left around the roundabout, not right before.  But some drivers say the arrow still puts their minds in a spin.

"It's new, and now everybody knows how to get around it," says Roland.

The people who helped engineer this roundabout are willing to give drivers the benefit of the doubt.

"Right now, we're looking for ways to make that more clear to motorists," says MODOT Assistant District Engineer Dan Salisbury.  

MODOT will paint on the asphalt a circle, symbolizing the roundabout, below the left arrow.  

But MODOT says arrows like the one in Webb City, without the circle, have been used at roundabouts elsewhere, without any confusion from drivers.

"There's another one down on 86 near the new Mercy hospital.  And then next year, we'll do another two lane roundabout at Stone's Corner.  So it's something that's going to become more prevalent in the area, and people will have to learn how to drive those," says Salisbury.

MODOT says putting a dot near the arrows is an inexpensive solution to the problem  But workers with MODOT say they are exploring other options, if they are needed.

MODOT says a 2012 study showed 13,590 vehicles went through this new roundabout area.

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