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New Wake Forest Roundabout Causes Traffic Confusion

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WAKE FOREST, N.C. — Wake Forest just opened its first roundabout, and some drivers are just plain confused.

The driver of one truck stopped in mid-circle; the truck stalled, and he stalled a long line of traffic. Another truck in the circle had the right of way, but the confused driver stopped. A car nearby should have yielded, but sped ahead.

Who stops, who goes? Roundabout backers say it's simple.

"When you're in the circle, keep moving, you have the right of way," said deputy town manager Roe O'Donnell. "Once you learn that, that circulating traffic has priority, these things work extremely well."

"They can say it's easy, but people just aren't used to them in this area, so you're going to wind up with a lot of near misses," said driver Glenn Day.

People in the Triangle need to get used to roundabouts. In 2002, N.C. State opened one of the first in the area. The early days were rough, but drivers have worked it out. Up to nine other roundabouts are planned as part of a redo of Hillsborough Street in Raleigh.

The Wake Forest roundabout was designed to keep more traffic flowing at the busy intersection of Highway 1A and Highway 98 at Southeastern Seminary.

"They work well in Europe, and I think eventually it'll probably solve the traffic problem here," said driver Pandora Gill.

Traffic engineers advise drivers to give it time, keep moving in the circle, and the roundabout can be a traffic-flow solution. Wake Forest plans to install three more roundabouts in the near future.


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