Local News

Debate Swirls Around Durham Roundabout

Posted February 26, 2002

— Roundabouts, or traffic circles, spin many North Carolina drivers into a frenzy. Road engineers said that they are a great way to ease traffic troubles, however, some drivers are skeptical.

Durham County planners believe that Erwin Road at N.C. 751 is a good spot to try something new, so they have proposed a roundabout, or traffic circle, for the intersection.

What do people think about the traffic circles?

"Americans just can't handle roundabouts. In Europe, maybe people can deal with it, but here, for the cost and aggravation it would cost people, and the amount of land you'd have to clear out to put it in, I'd rather see the money go to bike lanes and more public transportation," said Dwayne Dixon, who lives near the intersection.

"I really like the idea," said Seth Wechsler, who also lives near the intersection. "I like it a lot better than a traffic light. I think a traffic light would slow down traffic. I like to drive fairly quickly through here. I don't think we need a traffic light."

While the Durham roundabout debate swirls, there is one spot in Raleigh where a roundabout is just around the corner.

Work will soon start at the intersection of Stinson and Pullen Road on the campus of North Carolina State University.

The DOT's congestion management engineer showed WRAL the Pullen Plan, and how the roundabout there will work.

"Traffic's only coming from your left. Once you have a good enough opening and a gap, you enter the circulating roadway. If you're coming through, you just curve around and continue through," explained James Dunlop, a DOT engineer.

Construction on the N.C. State roundabout is scheduled to start in June.

The Durham Transportation Advisory Committee has put the N.C. 751 roundabout on hold, asking for more information.

Engineers said that once drivers try the traffic circles, they will want more of them.

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