Thursday, July 10, 2008

From the Picken's Plan to the Brainard Plan

Or perhaps it should be called the "No-Brainard" plan.

Read on to see how the conversion of 4 way traffic stops to roundabouts holds the key to saving millions of gallons of gasoline per year, reducing accidents, decreasing congestion, and generally being the no-brainer idea of the year to help save us from ourselves.

Mayor Jim Brainard made the case for installing roundabouts in Carmel, Indiana by promoting their proven environmental friendliness, safety benefits, cost savings and ability to smooth traffic flow. The City of Carmel began installing roundabouts in 1996 and now has 40 on city thoroughfares with over 20 more planned and funded within three years.

Carmel is located in Hamilton County, Indiana, a non-attainment area designated by the Environmental Protection Agency. This designation can adversely affect aspects of federal funding and growth in the area. Poor air quality is also a detriment to citizens’ health. Roundabouts can help improve overall air quality by cutting down on idling engines that occur at four-way stop and signalized intersections.

When compared with signalized intersections, roundabouts save an average of 24,000 gallons of gas per year per roundabout with traffic counts ranging from 14,000 to 47,000 AADT (Insurance Institute of Highway Safety). This amounts to a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as cars continue to move through roundabout intersections by yielding at the entry rather than having to stop and idle. The City of Carmel currently has built 40 roundabouts in the past 12 years with more than 20 planned and funded. This is the highest number of any city in North America.