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Narberth Considers Roundabout For Wynnewood Intersection

Officials are waiting on more information before making a recommendation, Councilman Bob Wegbreit said.

Narberth officials are still waiting on more information before recommending a solution to traffic and safety concerns at the Wynnewood and Wynnewood intersection, but want more information on the logistics of installing a roundabout, Narberth councilman Bob Wegbreit said Tuesday.

Narberth Borough and Lower Merion Township have been considering options for the N Wynnewood Avenue and E Wynnewood Road intersection since a teenage pedestrian was struck there in December.

At a Monday night meeting, the Narberth Highway Committee heard from traffic engineer Brian Keaveney of Pennoni Associates as well as Michael Becker from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.

Keaveney provided updated traffic counts for the Wynnewood intersection, which showed a significant drop in traffic volume since the reopening of the Narberth bridge. According to Wegbreit, however, Keaveney believes the new traffic counts still meet PennDOT’s requirements for considering a traffic light or roundabout for that intersection.

“Overall, the sense of the room was that a roundabout would be the preferred solution,” Wegbreit said of Monday's meeting. “It’s more traffic calming, it’s pedestrian-friendly.”

The committee asked Keaveney to return to the next Highway Committee meeting prepared to talk about the costs and logistics of a roundabout at the intersection.

After that meeting, the committee will have a stronger view of whether to recommend a roundabout, traffic signal or no changes at the intersection.

“Then with more facts, we can discuss with Lower Merion and with PennDOT what steps would come next … we want to be able to offer the public different alternatives with better facts and background,” Wegbreit said.

The next meeting of the Highway Committee is tentatively scheduled for March 25 at 7:30 p.m.

Karin Fox February 27, 2013 at 08:02 PM
I'm trying to figure out how a roundabout is more traffic calming and pedestrian friendly than a traffic light. This is reminding me of classic sales talk, like when someone purchases an insanely expensive car b/c they like the look of it and the "attitude", yet they insist the reson they've purchased it is because it's "safe."
x February 27, 2013 at 08:24 PM
I'd like to see a diagram. I don't see how there's space for it.
Michael Alexander February 27, 2013 at 09:02 PM
Here's a diagram: http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/intersection/roundabouts/fhwasa10007/images/f1.jpg Initial cost is about the same as a traffic light. Could be up to $250k. Safety has been studied many times by various groups. A properly-designed single-lane roundabout is one of the safest types of intersection. Drivers have no lane use decisions to make. The design makes vehicles slow down, which also reduces the number and severity of crashes. A slower driver has more time to see and yield to pedestrians and other cars. I think pedestrian safety is more an issue of perceived risk rather than real risk. Pedestrians cross one lane of traffic at a time. This is significantly simpler than two-way stop-controlled intersections, where pedestrians cross parallel with the major street and contend with potential conflicts in front of and behind them. Although signalized intersections can provide indication of when pedestrians have the right-of-way (through a WALK indication), potential conflicts can come from multiple directions: left turns on green, right turns on green, right turns on red, and red-light-running through vehicles. (Paraphrased from Roundabouts, An Informational Guide, 2nd Edition). http://contextsensitivesolutions.org/content/reading/roundabouts__an_informational_g/resources/nchrp_rpt_672.pdf/
Karin Fox February 27, 2013 at 09:18 PM
"I think pedestrian safety is more an issue of perceived risk rather than real risk." Only someone who has never crossed this intersection on foot can make a statement like this, and furthermore, someone did just get hit, remember? That's what started this long overdue conversation. I guess if you are only ever driving through this intersection and you don't ever put yourself into the shoes of someone who is *walking*, you might see yourself as pretty safe in your car. It's NOT safe. As someone who lived in two major cities for decades before moving to "family-friendly, walkable-friendly" Narberth (just don't take one step OUT of it!), crossing this intersection is extremely dangerous and akin to a game of Frogger, only there are real humans crossing this street. Just like the one who was trying to cross and was "perceived" to have been hit and hospitalized. That wasn't a one-time freak thing...that was an accident waiting to happen. With all of the discussion going on about what will be filling the old Border's space, a new restaurant in the Wynnewood Post Office space, and the new expanded Whole Foods opening up the street, it seems that this mini-roundabout will fail rather quickly, requiring then an ADDITIONAL outlay for the traffic light that should have been purchased from the beginning. Would it make sense to maybe look 12-18 months ahead and consider the potential increase in traffic rather than simply considering what looks nice and what is going on tomorrow?
Karin Fox February 27, 2013 at 09:19 PM
OMG- somehow I missed the statement that an intersection where cars never come to a stop is safer to cross than an intersection where cars must stop. Really?
Bruce Fay February 27, 2013 at 10:14 PM
Am trusting ADA compliant disability access coming through the N. Wynnewood tunnel is being considered as well. The current sidewalk is too narrow for a wheelchair and many strollers and shopping carts.
Michael Alexander February 27, 2013 at 10:27 PM
Karin, I didn't make this up. Roundabouts have been found to be safer by traffic engineers.
Michael Alexander February 27, 2013 at 10:33 PM
Also, Karin, I thing you misunderstand my point. Obviously I'm not saying that pedestrian safety is only perceived to be bad now. I'm saying that pedestrian safety is sometimes perceived unsafe at roundabouts, but it is actually safer than the alternatives, for the reasons I outlined.
ScottRAB February 28, 2013 at 07:43 PM
Karin, The FHWA has a video about modern roundabouts that is mostly accurate (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhHzly_6lWM ). Modern roundabouts are the safest form of intersection in the world. Search 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. 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 or stop sign, especially the other 20 hours a day people aren’t driving to or from work. All modern roundabouts have median islands separating incoming and outgoing auto traffic. Pedestrians don't have to find a gap in two directions of traffic, just one. This is safer for pedestrians, especially for younger or older ones, because they only concentrate on one direction of traffic at a time. Traffic signals enable motoristis and pedestrians to tune out what is going on around them, falsely believing the signal controls all. Modern roundabouts require all users to be present and attentive. A much safer form of interaction (and remember, it's slow and go).
NB March 01, 2013 at 02:02 PM
PADOT said a round a min round about could fail as traffic builds up. So why is it that you all asked for a design of round about, knowing the traffic experts said it would fail AND knowing that a round about is almost $1million dollars, while a traffic light--more easily implemented and more effective--is only $150k? What kind of insanity is this?
Michael Alexander March 01, 2013 at 04:07 PM
NB, a mini roundabout doesn't cost $1 million dollars. The initial cost is about the same as a signal. The ongoing cost is much less that a signal. As traffic volumes increase, both a roundabout and a signal would "Fail", which simply means that queue times are over one minute for a car entering the intersection during peak periods. Most signalized intersections in our area are already failing. Under current conditions and even with the increased traffic due to the bridge being closed, a mini-roundabout can handle the traffic during peak periods just fine.
NB March 02, 2013 at 04:04 PM
Michae, according to the traffic engineers, a round about is much more expensive than a traffic light and much less effective. You are twisting words to say that a traffic light and a round about have an equal fail rate. You also know that a traffiic light is ot $250k. Finally, your committee has already made up its mind it wants a round about because your asked for round about designs from the engineers, instead of also asking for plannning for a light. You've made it blatantly clear you want a round about and will not consider a light. I'm trying to understand why that is?
Michael Alexander March 03, 2013 at 01:48 AM
Larger single lane roundabouts (100 ft inscribed circle or larger) funded through the DVRPC have recently cost somewhere around $1 million dollars. One example of these is in Burlington, NJ. This project is much larger than ours, requiring a lot more concrete. After taking a look on Google, I think utility poles there will be moved, which also inflates the cost. Here's an article about that project, with a picture: http://bit.ly/YV8mZr If we do construct a roundabout, it will be a mini-roundabout, and will be much smaller (45-60 ft inscribed circle). The cost would be comparable to the mini-roundabout just built in Bel Air, MD, which has an inscribed circle of 58 ft and cost $172,000 to build in the spring of 2012 (I think they also spent $25,000 on new LED lights too). They didn't need to move utility poles, and I'm hoping that we won't have to either. Here's a video about that one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KLbr1awEbk Our committee is a group of volunteers who is trying to do what's right for our community. We are also considering a light, but at the moment a mini-roundabout seems like a safer, more efficient and more ecological alternative, so we are exploring that avenue first. The reason we prefer a mini-roundabout is that roundabouts have been proven to be safer for pedestrians and automobiles than traffic signals. I'm not sure why that's hard to understand.
Michael Alexander March 03, 2013 at 01:52 AM
(I forgot to say that I think a traffic signal would cost between $150,000 and $200,000, which is why I say the costs are comparable)

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