PENDLETON, Ind. — Jeff Pherson is very familiar with the county’s new roundabout.
“I drive through it about 15 times a day,” he said.
Pherson, the service manager for Riley & Sons Auto Repair, 7335 S. County Road 300 West, Pendleton, said the roundabout is easy to navigate and traffic seems to flow better since its installation. He said he drives through the roundabout to test vehicles after repairs are made.
The single-lane traffic juncture, installed at the intersection of State Road 38 and County Road 300 West, is located near Pendleton Heights Middle School.
The roundabout is the first structure of its kind to be built in Madison County, but it might not be the last. Construction for the project was completed by E&B Paving of Anderson for $1,284,325.
“Anderson has been looking at them for awhile,” said Jerry Bridges, executive director of Madison County Council of Governments.
Bridges said officials considered installing a roundabout at the Pendleton location in the early 2000s. Funding was initially awarded in late 2007, and additional funds for lighting and other enhancements were awarded in late 2011, he added.
Pendleton Town Council President Don Henderson said projects like the roundabout take years to complete.
“Some things just take a little longer,” he said. “I think it is going to create a safe environment for decades to come.”
Tim McClintick, Pendelton’s interim town manager, said the overall reaction to the roundabout has been positive.
“Some people don’t like roundabouts no matter where they are,” he said. “There was a lot of concern before it was built, but that was mostly just concern of the unknown, and sometimes people are just resistant to change.”
Mike Kidder and Debbie Lee, both of Pendleton, said the roundabout should be more than one lane and they have seen people driving on the brick edging.
"It's too narrow," Kidder said.
Joey Patton of Pendleton admits he tries to avoid the roundabout.
“I think they are pointless,” Patton said. “I don’t see why they don’t just put a light there.”
He said he has seen people get turned around and go the wrong way in roundabouts.
“I’ve actually been in a car that has gone the wrong way in one,” he said. “I would rather just be safe and not use it.”
Statistics, however, show that roundabouts are actually safer than traditional intersections.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, roundabouts reduce congestion and greatly improve safety for motorists and pedestrians. They account for a 90 percent reduction in fatalities, a 76 percent reduction in injuries and a 35 percent reduction in the overall number of crashes.
Prior to the roundabout's construction, Mark Matlock, director of support services for South Madison Community School Corporation, said the intersection was too dangerous for school buses to travel through. He said visibility and high traffic volume created hazardous conditions. Now, he said, it is safer.
"This is a wonderful, wonderful addition," Matlock said.
Henderson said the only complaint he hears now are from people who say they have to slow down at the roundabout.
“My response is, it's a school zone. You are supposed to slow down,” he said.
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