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History of the Modern Roundabout

A modern roundabout has three major characteristics compared to its predecessors, traffic circles and rotaries. First, the roundabout gives vehicles in the circular travel way the right-of-way. This change on a national basis in England in 1963 marked the start of the modern roundabout era. Second, roundabouts are small, generally from 70 to 160 feet in diameter compared to 300 to 400 feet and more for traffic circles and rotaries. Third, roundabouts have a raised entry "splitter" island that slows down or constrains speed just before entry, duplicating in a way the curvature the driver will experience within the roundabout itself.

There are an estimated 25,000 roundabouts in the UK and up to 32,000 roundabouts in France. History of Roundabouts in the UK

The first modern roundabouts in Utah began operation during the summer of 1996 in the Provo-Orem area. The pioneering roundabouts are located near Seven Peaks Ice Arena on Center Street in Provo City and at the Utah Valley State College front entrance located at the intersection of 1200 South/Sandhill Road near University Parkway and I-15.

The modern roundabout, which dates from 1963 in England, finally arrived in the United States in 1990 in Summerlin a major Las Vegas residential subdivision. Leif Ourston was the main designer. When the first roundabout freeway interchange in the nation was built in 1995 (also designed by Leif Ourston)--at the I-70 interchange in Vail, Colorado--roundabouts then numbered about a dozen nationally. Avon, Colorado, the next I-70 interchange after Vail, in 1998 installed five roundabouts between the I-70 interchange and the Beaver Creek Mountain ski resort. Several other roundabouts have since been constructed in every state including Alaska and Hawaii.

Today, the number of modern roundabouts in the USA has jumped to around 3,700 (as of December 2013).

There are over 180 roundabouts constructed in Utah.

In Alpine, Utah there is a roundabout constructed in 2003 at the intersection of Main Street / Canyon Crest Drive. It includes a school crossing and flashers.

In Bountiful, Utah there is a roundabout at the 5-leg intersection east of the 5-Points Mall.

Cedar Hills, Utah has a roundabout on Cedar Hills Drive between Lone Peak High School and the Elementary School.

In Draper, Utah there are 5 roundabouts. The newest roundabouts recently constructed located at:

  • Pioneer Road/1300 East(12400 South)
  • 300 East north of McDonalds at the new post office,
  • 300 East (12800 South), and
  • 300 East (13000 South).

A small town in Utah County called Eagle Mountain west of Utah lake contains several oversized roundabouts.

Herriman Utah, is designing a roundabout on the main road into town on 12600 South.

In Lehi, Utah a small 130' diameter roundabout may be the busiest one in the State located west of the railroad tracks on Main Street and 500 West.

The City of North Salt Lake, Utah has a 150' diameter roundabout just east of Orchard Drive.

In Orem, Utah there are roundabouts at the following 4 intersections:

  • 1200 South/Sandhill Road (Southwest corner of UVSC Campus),
  • 1600 South/Sandhill Road (South of Walmart next to the Springs Park and Melville's horse corralls),
  • 1200 South/400 West (Southeast corner of UVSC Campus), and
  • 800 North/1000 East (entrance to Cascade golf course near Provo Canyon).

In Ogden, Utah there are two large roundabouts on the 4-lane ring road around Weber State University Campus.

In Park City, Utah there are five roundabouts at the following intersections:

  • Deer Valley Drive/Marsac Ave.(next to the Transit Center),
  • Kilby Road/Factory Stores Entrance(west of Kimball Junction), 
  • Powderwood Drive/Factory Stores (towards the Nike Store in the back.)
  • Kilby Road, Walmart - 2- lane roundabout, and
  • South of the Walmart on the road to the ski jump area.

In Provo, Utah roundabouts are located at the following 9 intersections:

  • 200 West/900 South (north end of Provo Towne Centre),
  • 550 West/1950 North (near Deseret Industries and Carriage Cove),
  • Center St./700 East,
  • Center St./1200 East,
  • University Parkway/550 West (inside Christenson Chevrolet),
  • 1700 North/1700 West (2 in the Grandview Neighborhood),
  • 3700 North/300 West (near Will's Pit Stop)
  • 1400 West/820 North (south of Grandview Hill)
  • 300 East/900 South

Riverdale, Utah has more roundabouts per capita than any City in the USA. Its population is 8,000 and it has 5 roundabouts, all on busy collector streets. There are two in a row on Riverwood Drive and three in a row on 4400 West. Its roundabouts are located at the following 5 intersections:

  • 700 West/River Park Drive adjacent to the new Walmart,
  • 900 West/River Park Drive,
  • Parker Drive/4400 South (T-intersection)
  • Cozy Dale Drive/4400 South (T-intersection)
  • Airport Road/4400 South (Roy City intersection)

St. George, Utah has approximately 30 roundabouts.It is the recognized leader in Utah. Their first roundabout was on Main Street opening in November 1999. In addition a roundabout interchange was constructed in 2003 at the I-15/Bloomington exit south of St. George. It is being modified and improved.

Salt Lake City, Utah with UTA and UDOT in 2003 opened a 130' ICD roundabout at the University of Utah Campus on Guardsman Way/South Campus Drive east of Rice-Eccles Stadium. This is the first roundabout in the USA with a light-rail train going through the center as is common in Europe.

South Jordan, Utah has over 8 roundabouts. They include two 200' ICD roundabouts on 500 West/River Drive (5-lane arterial) through the new business park west of the Jordan River at 106th South. Four two-lane 220-ft. diameter roundabouts were recently constucted on 11400 South west of Bangerter Highway in the 4,000 acre DayBreak new urbanist development. See: DayBreak Master Plan.

Tooele, Utah has a roundabout near the entrance to the Overlake development next to Jack's Market.

West Jordan, Utah currently has 7 roundabouts. Most are located at collector/collector street intersections instead of traffic signals on the westside with new development. A new roundabout was constructed in 2004 on the south end of City Hall near Redwood Road.

West Valley City, Utah currently has 4 roundabouts located on 4-lane arterial streets in the Lake Park Development. They are located just west of Bangerter Highway and south of 2100 South Highway on Lake Park Drive. They are 180-ft diameter, 2-lane roundabouts designed by Bill Baranowski.

The roundabout community anticipates that roundabouts will be built in the United States annually by the hundreds in the coming years and by the thousands annually early in the next century, duplicating the trends first in Britain and Australia during the 1970s and 1980s and now being repeated throughout western Europe. France with over 30,000 roundabouts may be the world leader (reported by Guichet, TRB 2008). Most have been built since the mid-1970s. Sweden with over 2,000 roundabouts constructed since the mid 1980s is one of the safest countries to drive.

Roundabout designers and planners need to work with Cities, Counties, State DOTs, the FHWA and each other to encourage uniformity of roundabout capacity analysis, design, signage and striping. Experienced engineers need to show developers, planners, the public and local politicians the simple benefits of modern roundabouts. The future success of roundabouts will depend on the roundabouts themselves. When they are constructed at proper locations and designed correctly demand for them will increase.

Roundabouts USA is © Copyright Bill Baranowski

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