Pima County transportation officials proposing roundabouts

Pima County transportation officials proposing roundabouts
Example of a single lane roundabout. (Source: Pima County Transportation)
Example of a single lane roundabout. (Source: Pima County Transportation)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Pima County Department of Transportation discussed proposed single-lane roundabouts Thursday evening with folks who live in the areas where they will be built.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, single-lane roundabouts reduce the number of crashes, cost less to maintain, and reduce the speed of cars and reduce noise pollution.

Roughly 80 people were in attendance at Kirk Bear Canyon Library for the first of five PCDOT meetings to discuss city-wide intersection improvements.

PCDOT presented on two specific areas at the meeting, and proposed putting in a roundabout at Sabino Canyon Road at Sunrise Drive and Remount Place, and a continuous green T intersection at Tanque Verde Road and Tanque Verde Loop Road.

Seth Chalmers, traffic engineering division manager for PCDOT, said the purpose of the meetings is to educate people about the proposals, provide information on roundabouts and receive public input.

"Primarily we're focusing on roundabouts," Chalmers said. "They're a proven countermeasure in terms of reducing crashes. We're also working with the forest services to reconfigure their entrance to the park. They're planning on making improvements in conjunction to what we're planning to do with that intersection."

The time estimate for this project ranges from 2 to 3 years and could cost up to $9 million dollars.

"We're trying within two years, because we're using some federal aid and local bond money," Chalmers said. "Typically with federal aid it takes about 18-24 months to develop a project to the point where it's ready to construct."

PCDOT officials said they hope to reduce congestion in high traffic areas and increase safety for both pedestrians and drivers with the implementation of these roundabouts.

But not everyone was on board with the idea.

While some residents who attended said they enjoy the safety aspect, many worried about the cost and the issue of eminent domain in proposed areas that include private property.

Some residents also said they don't think that the proposed areas have very heavy traffic congestion, and questioned the need for roundabouts in those places.

"We've got a lot of other problems we could be using that money for," said Tony Ponchak, a resident of the Bear Canyon area. "We face potholes in roads, there's a lot better use for that money."

County officials said the projects are still in the planning stages, but following the meetings they will decide on which project to move forward with based on feedback.

PCDOT also said they are considering changing the speed limit on that area of Tanque Verde Road from 45 mph to 35 mph.

Those not able to attend a meeting can click here to take a quick survey.

Also under discussion is a "continuous green T" intersection at Tanque Verde Loop Road. Check it out here - http://webcms.pima.gov/cms/One.aspx?portalId=169&pageId=249227

Officials will vote on the proposals on May 9, 2016.

Tucson News Now Intern Clarisse Markarian contributed to this article.

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