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AARP Forum Promotes Roundabouts on Main Street

Numerous locals switch from opposed to in favor of roundabouts by the meeting's end.

Modern roundabouts in Smithtown could be a viable option to promote pedestrian safety and stimulate Main Street economy, according to several politicians and traffic experts during Friday’s open forum hosted by AARP. 

During the two forum sessions held Friday at the , the final report from , was discussed with an emphasis on his suggested use of the modern roundabout.

Burden's report stated that the use of modern roundabouts would "allow motorists to stay in motion and therefore pass through the corridor in reduced time" allowing for less delays. He also states roundabouts would improve pedestrian crossing on Main Street, produce less noise and reduce pollution.

William Stoner, associate state director for livable communities at AARP, asked the audience to hold up the red, yellow or green piece of paper in the air for who was not in favor, who was unsure and who was in favor of the modern roundabout idea for Smithtown.

To start the meeting much of the audience held up the red paper indicating they were not in favor of the roundabout and the yellow paper indicating they were unsure. At the end of the presentation, however, there were far more yellow and green sheets of paper raised, indicating they were interested in hearing more or in favor of the modern roundabout idea.

Stoner referred to the red sheets changing to yellow and the yellow sheets turning to green at the end of the meeting as “good news.”

“Through this forum the focus was to educate people,” Stoner said. “They understood that roundabouts aren’t something to be afraid of, it could work for Smithtown and it could dramatically improve the safety in Smithtown and hopefully the economy." 

Audience member Greg Suhr Sr. of Kings Park, who spoke during the presentation, said after that he is absolutely in favor of roundabouts and travels Main Street roughly four or five times a day. Suhr said he is a fan of jughandles, a ramp or portion of road that forces traffic to only make left turns at certain intersections, such as the ones he would encounter while driving in sections of New Jersey, but roundabouts are a quality alternative.

Suhr, who does patient transporting for doctors and maintenance work during the day, said roundabouts would work in Smithtown if the public were educated on how to use them.

“The public needs to be educated how to use these lanes. Once you know how to use them it will smooth everything out,” he said.

Also backing the installation of modern roundabouts was Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick, R- St. James.

“I am a very big fan, I do believe that they work, I’ve done some homework on it … if you look for solutions inside the box they’re gone, they’re not there,” he said. “I believe in it, I want to talk about it, I want to help people understand it." 

Fitzpatrick said the solution to Main Street and the installation of modern roundabouts sooner than later needs to start from the community and work its way up to the New York State Department of Transportation.

“I think it could be very realistic if the community gets behind it,” he said. “Top down, people will push back. Bottom up? Inform them, show them, educate them and build it that way then I think it could happen more quickly than people realize.” 

Burden’s final report offered five different locations along Main Street where a modern roundabout could work, including Route 111 at Route 25A, Landing Avenue at Miller Place, Lawrence Avenue, Maple Avenue and New York Avenue at Redwood Lane. While five locations were provided, not all five were suggested for implementation, and numerous speakers at the meeting stated the roundabouts work best in pairs.

The report also states an “inner circulation road” would divert traffic from and decrease the number of cars traveling on a more shopper and pedestrian friendly Main Street and facilitate a possible removal of two lanes from the road. The inner circulation road suggested would run from New York Avenue east along Ma Bell Lane to Maple Avenue, and after crossing Maple it would travel through a parking lot and then from Percy Avenue to Lawrence Avenue. It would then go north on Lawrence to the back of the stores on Main Street. 

Burden’s report concludes that the DOT proposal to remove one lane and not replace the signals with roundabouts would cause delays and not address speed and the ability for pedestrians to cross Main Street.

Following the meeting Stoner said roundabouts would provide the significant change Main Street needs. 

“There are other short term and long term options that are available but we feel after all these years and just most recently with the continued pedestrian fatalities and collisions that are happening and the Main Street vacancies – 36 vacant Main Street businesses – we’ve got to do something significant,” he said. “We believe that roundabouts is that solution.”

William Stoner March 27, 2012 at 12:24 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhHzly_6lWM For some great information on modern roundabouts.
WOODY11780 March 27, 2012 at 01:12 PM
AFTER VIEWING THE VIDEO...IT SEEMS NICE, BUT....1....THE INTERSECTIONS IN SMITHTOWN ARE TOO SMALL TO SUPPORT A TRAFFIC CIRCLE ROUNDABOUT...2.... OUR LOCAL MOTORISTS DO NOT HAVE THE DRIVING SKILLS NEEDED TO NEGOTIATE A TRAFFIC CIRCLE.....IT WOULD BE A DISASTER.....BASIC RULES WILL HELP THE PROBLEM.....1.. CROSS AT THE CORNER, & ONLY WHEN ITS SAFE TO DO SO. 2..MOTORISTS BEWARE OF PEDESTRIANS CROSSING BETWEEN PARKED CARS, & SLOW DOWN !!!
Christopher D'Antonio March 27, 2012 at 03:31 PM
I'd like to see Smithtown try them! Maybe start with one at the intersection of Route 111 and 25 first to prove the concept and then follow up with others at the identified intersections.
UncommonSense March 27, 2012 at 03:40 PM
I would offer a warning to all of the people that are proposing this plan and answering peoples doubts and concerns with, "Don't worry, we'll educate you, watch, it will be fine". Pay attention to your critics. This plan, as proposed in this article, with roundabouts at Maple Ave and New York Ave at Redwood and a proposed “inner circulation road” are horrible, horrible ideas. Be warned, It's nice to have a bunch of people around you patting you on the back telling you that every idea you have is fantastic, but you are making a mistake by not taking the everyday commuters concerns and criticisms into consideration.
UncommonSense March 27, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Main Street is desperately in need of some design corrections. Reduce west bound Main Street to one lane with a dedicated turning lane. Address the turning lane East bound at the Landing Avenue intersection. Correct minor issues at the other intersections (no parking within 500 feet of main street on New York Avenue, etc...) Adjust the lights so that traffic moves from green to red to reduce the urge to try to beat the light, and redesign or possibly consider a "metered" roundabout (roundabout with traffic lights to control inflow) at 111, and also roundabouts on Edgewood at Landing and River road to better flow traffic on that road out to 25a. These are all needed changes that will work to better control the roads that we already have with out introducing arbitrary changes just for the sake of "thinking out side of the box". When traffic becomes more predictable and flows at an even pace town residents and commuters will be happier and safer. Pedestrians and Shoppers will return to Main St and Businesses will follow.
Christopher D'Antonio March 27, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Woody11780 you make a salient and very important point, unfortunately the majority of roadway design is about presenting directions and cues to motorists and the other users that interact with roadways as to how to act when using them. Any roundabout constructed would be accompanied by abundant signage announcing that it was coming up, to yield before entering it, and which way to flow around the center. I wish we could give more credit to motorists and pedestrians but we have proven that even under existing intersections we require and extraordinary amount of signage and signals to direct people. I would speculate that we may require less signage if we move to roundabouts but I will wait and see.
ScottRAB March 27, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Modern roundabouts are the safest form of intersection in the world. Visit www.iihs.org for FAQs and safety facts. The safety comes from the ‘slow and go’ operation instead of the ‘stop or go fast’ way a stop light works (or the ‘keep going fast’ large traffic circle fantasy). The smaller size of the modern roundabout is what makes them safer and keeps speeds in the 20 mph range. This makes it much easier to avoid a crash or stop for pedestrians. It also means that if a crash happens the likelihood of injury is very low. Safety is the #1 reason there are over 2,400 modern roundabouts in the US today and many more on the way. Slow and go also means less delay than a stop light, especially the other 20 hours a day people aren’t driving to or from work. Average daily delay at a signal is around 12 seconds per car. At a modern roundabout average delay is less than five seconds. Signals take an hour of demand and restrict it to a half hour, at best only half the traffic gets to go at any one time. At a modern roundabout four drivers entering from four directions can all enter at the same time. Don’t try that with a signalized intersection. Modern roundabouts fit in 90-120 ft diameters and mini-roundabouts fit in smaller spaces.
ScottRAB March 27, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Modern roundabouts are not the same as rotaries. The lane use rules are the same as signalized intersections. For multiple lanes approaching any controlled intersection, a motorists must be aware of the lane to be in before entering the intersection. Most two-lane modern roundabouts operate the same as two lane signalized intersections that don't have left turn pockets. The left lane can go through or left and the right lane can go through or right.
ScottRAB March 27, 2012 at 04:12 PM
How much flow are we talking about? Single-lane modern roundabouts can handle intersections that serve about 20,000 vehicles per day. Two-lane modern roundabouts can serve about 50,000 vehicles per day. Right-turn slip lanes can increase that number if needed.
Sara March 27, 2012 at 06:22 PM
Roundabouts are proven to work by people who dedicate thier lives to studying traffic patterns. What qualifications do you have to say that they wont work? To me it sounds like you are living in the past and do not want any change for Smithtown. They have a traffic circle in Huntington Village and that works just fine. Huntington also has Route 25 going through it and guess what, Pedestrians are everywhere and the town is thriving. It can work if you learned anything but the word "no". Oh and I am an everyday commuter so maybe you shouldn't use that blanket statement.
Christopher D'Antonio March 27, 2012 at 06:57 PM
UncommonSense, I do agree with you that we shouldn't simply change for change's sake but the roundabout concept is supported by the expertise of the federal highway administration as a safer and more efficient replacement for signalized intersections. Also, this is essentially an initiative in the visioning stage, so your comments are helping to shape how they are received and how they will be implemented. Let's hope that NYSDOT pays attention to the discussion here and in public meetings. To speak personally I shouldn't be supporting them as a frequent cyclist because there is little research supporting the safety gains for cyclists who opt to use the travel lanes of a roundabout rather than cross them as pedestrians, and some speculate that they actually endanger cyclists.
Joe Smith March 27, 2012 at 09:51 PM
The roundabout is a great idea. I think it would define the beginning of Smithtowns main street, slow traffic and keep it at a constant pace at the same time. I find no reason to support the current road configuration. It has not worked and will continue to be a problem. Lets at least ask the DOT to provide the engineering and start moving forward!
E Baum March 27, 2012 at 11:00 PM
They took the roundabout out in Pittsfield MA. Instead, they put in pedestrian crossing lights that cannot be ignored. They hang in such a way that it is impossible to miss them. The situation has greatly improved there. Roundabouts are very difficult to navigate. Its like trying to jump into double dutch jump roping. I think it will cause even more problems. I hate to sound cynical, but I have seen too many government roadway jobs rife with problems after the fact. Before we make such drastic structural changes, I think we should try those new pedestrian crossing lights.
UncommonSense March 28, 2012 at 01:24 AM
@Sara, Yes Sara you are correct, I have no training, education or experience in traffic planning. what I do have is some common sense and the ability to logically and objectively analyze a situation with out letting my emotions and wishful thinking cloud my judgement. The traffic circle that is installed in Huntington is on Gerard Street. This is a side street north of 25a. it's in the middle of nowhere between some parking lots, an apartment complex and a post office. It's not on the main 25a artery. it's not part of New York Avenue. it's not on route 110. In other words it's no where near the main traffic that passes through Huntington each day. with that said here is a link to an article submitted by a Huntington Village resident complaining about the traffic circle and calling for it's removal. http://villagetattler.com/2010/04/03/morning-driving-through-the-roundabout/ I lived in Huntington Village on Fairview Street right off of New York Avenue back when I was in my twenties. It's a great town. fun, walkable, vibrant and prosperous. I would love nothing more than to be able to say the same things about Smithtown Main street. I can list a dozen things that help Huntington Village to be such a success, but unfortunately the traffic circle isn't one of them. I wish it were that easy. Smithtown has complicated problems. there are no quick fixes. only a well thought out, detailed plan that looks at the situation as a whole will begin to address the issues here.
UncommonSense March 28, 2012 at 02:02 AM
@Sara, Yes Sara you are correct, I have no training, education or experience in traffic planning. what I do have is some common sense and the ability to logically and objectively analyze a situation with out letting my emotions and wishful thinking cloud my judgement. The traffic circle that is installed in Huntington is on Gerard Street. This is a side street north of 25a. it's in the middle of nowhere between some parking lots, an apartment complex and a post office. It's not on the main 25a artery. it's not part of New York Avenue. it's not on route 110. In other words it's no where near the main traffic that passes through Huntington each day. with that said here is a link to an article submitted by a Huntington Village resident complaining about the traffic circle and calling for it's removal. http://villagetattler.com/2010/04/03/morning-driving-through-the-roundabout/ I lived in Huntington Village on Fairview Street right off of New York Avenue back when I was in my twenties. It's a great town. fun, walkable, vibrant and prosperous. I would love nothing more than to be able to say the same things about Smithtown Main street. I can list a dozen things that help Huntington Village to be such a success, but unfortunately the traffic circle isn't one of them. There are no quick fixes. Only a well thought out, detailed plan that looks at the situation as a whole will begin to address the issues here. Huntington style traffic circles on Main Street are not the answer.
Joe Smith March 28, 2012 at 12:34 PM
What was in Pittsfield Mass was a rotary not a roundabout. It operates at higher speeds and is not being considered for Smithtown.
UncommonSense March 29, 2012 at 03:09 AM
I understand all of the proposed safety benefits of a modern roundabout and I agree with them in theory or where they are appropriate. My concern is that other than possibly at route 111, and on Edgewood at Landing and River Road, they are not needed on main street it's self. The problem on main street has two main components. One is speed, which can be reduced with properly timed red lights and a single lane going west (with a single lane the prudent driver sets the pace). The second is all of the various turns across traffic with out proper turning lanes. The issues in town are all related to the turning. Even the speeding is related to this. Stopped cars in the left lane create a dangerous situation for all the other traffic. The roundabouts are supposed to keep traffic flowing at a steady pace. In our case we need to stop traffic to let cars make the lefts from a safe, unencumbered turning lane, and then let traffic continue on out to 25a/ 25 at the east end. Also, we need to stop traffic to let pedestrians cross at crosswalks. you can not put a roundabout at every left turn across traffic on main street. It simply will not work. The dot plan of a modified road diet with properly timed red lights to slow traffic is the right solution to address our particular problem. in addition Edgewood, like it or not, is a conduit to 25a. The issues on that road must be addressed in order to keep cars that would otherwise use it off of Main Street. We need a comprehensive solution.
Jill in Nesconset April 01, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Has anyone gone out to Riverhead (CR58)and used their traffic circle? Does Anyone know what their accident rate is? Everytime I've been out there it seems there is always an accident.
Nancy VanTwistern June 10, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Someone mentioned 'stay in motion' going through a roundabout...what bull.... too, too many drivers do no heed the 'yield' signs!!!

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