Roundabouts: is the truth found in statistics or in our feelings about them?

Largely because of the increase in truck traffic in south Sutter County, there are safety issues that need to be addressed along Highway 99

The county hired the consulting firm GHD, Inc., to study alternatives for the intersection of Oswald Road and Highway 99. An engineer addressed the supervisors Tuesday. He listed three alternatives. It seems from the reactions we’ve seen, his recommendations concerning roundabouts vs. traffic lights  run about opposite of what the general public thinks. 

– First Option: Put in a traffic signal. He said it would improve safety by 25 percent and cost $5 million to construct.

– Second option: A roundabout. He said it would improve safety by about 50 percent and cost $12 million.

– Third option:  An interchange would improve safety by 75 percent, and would cost $40 million ... and take around a decade to get done.

The engineer likes the roundabout option, it seems. He said Federal Highway Administration research shows that roundabouts can reduce accidents involving injuries and death by up to 82 percent. Other research shows great improvement where stop signs were replaced with roundabouts.

There was plenty of skepticism expressed by the public about the benefits of a roundabout vs a traffic signal. People don’t believe roundabouts are easier to navigate, doubt that they are safer, believe that they are more difficult for big trucks, and that they are more difficult for a mixture of truck and car traffic. There’s a general sense that the safest option is the traffic signals; least safe is roundabouts.

Clearly, if credible data shows that roundabouts are far superior for safety purposes, we’ve got to put some thought into it. And we’re not fans of stoplights on fast-moving highways (running a red light in town probably means a fender-bender; running a red light on a highway can mean death).

The consultant and county officials say there is a lot more consideration to be made before a decision.

Supervisor Mat Conant’s comment that they need to look at a plan for more overpasses and less traffic lights is surely a budget problem; but it might be the best long-term goal ... but besides money, there’s a decade of waiting before an overpass-interchange is constructed. 

How do roundabouts work for trucks and cars together on a high-speed highway? We need more convincing.

Group takes charge of local women’s issues by prioritizing with their individual checkbooks

Kudos to those who created the Power of 100 Sutter Buttes Basin. The organization of women (100 is the goal) throughout the region, comes together quarterly, each writing a check for $100.

Julie Gill Shuffield, president of the new group, said the money goes directly to a non-profit of the group’s choosing. Right now they’re concentrating on helping Casa de Esperanza, the local shelter for battered spouses and families victimized by domestic violence. Casa has been through the wringer the last few years, since a fire occurred in the shelter (which is just now being fixed).

“We wanted to figure out a way to transform our community and bring together a group of women with the focus of raising money and empowering women in their community,” she said in an interview published earlier in the week.

They went beyond their goal at their first event Sept. 19 with more than $10,000 raised all right there and then for the good of the cause. This is a great model for a supportive group and puts women firmly at the forefront of influencing issues that concern women.

Our View editorials represent the opinion of the Appeal–Democrat and its editorial board and are edited by the publisher and/or editor. Members of the editorial board include: Publisher Glenn Stifflemire and Editor Steve Miller.

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