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Published January 14, 2011, 08:22 PM

European-style "Roundabouts" May Soon be More Common in Grand Forks

Over the next few years, drivers in Grand Forks will start to see more of what are called roundabouts at intersections. It's an alternative to traffic lights at some busy intersections. They're basically a circle type of median in the center of the intersection designed to slow traffic.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ

Over the next few years, drivers in Grand Forks will start to see more of what are called roundabouts at intersections.

It's an alternative to traffic lights at some busy intersections. They're basically a circle type of median in the center of the intersection designed to slow traffic. They have been used in Europe for many years, but now this traffic control is catching on here.

If you have been out to the Grand Forks Airport lately you would have seen the first roundabout intersection in Greater Grand Forks

Oncoming traffic in all directions slows down or yields as they make their way around the intersection. MPO Executive Director Earl Haugen says there are three or four intersections in Grand Forks where a roundabout would work.

"The cost of a traffic signal and a roundabout is sort of favoring roundabouts in the capital costs right now," Haugen said.

The next of these circular intersections is planned to go at the intersection of 34th street and 24th Avenue south. But why here and why now? Haugen says roundabouts have been around in Europe and Washington, D.C for a long time.

"We looked at the success that traffic signals provided but tried to re-engineer them for smaller, common intersections that we have in the United States," Haugen said.

Haugen says roundabouts don't work everywhere. The MPO has identified the intersection at South Washingon and 40th street as one of the places for another traffic light. But Haugen says the European-looking intersections have a future in Grand Forks.

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