Drivers in one of the state’s most-populated cities could soon be navigating through more roundabouts.
Engineers in the city of Cedar Rapids say it is behind, compared to other nearby cities, when it comes to transforming streetlights into traffic circles.
On Wednesday, the city held a "mobile open house" outside of Hoover Elementary prior to the opening of the city’s second roundabout. The first was put in last August near Kirkwood Community College.
Wednesday’s open house was a chance to teach parents and neighbors about the intersection change and to give them an opportunity to ride along for a test run.
"We want make sure everyone knows how to drive them. It’s something new so we want people to get familiar with them," John Witt, Cedar Rapids Traffic Engineering Program Manager, said.
Witt said the change outside of the school on the intersection of Johnson Ave. and Wiley Blvd NW are due to safety concerns and traffic congestion.
"We had a large amount of crashes at it. Approximately 70% of all the crashes would have been eliminated had a roundabout had been here so the type of crashes we we’re getting what we call left turn crashes," Witt said.
The roundabout will keep traffic flowing rather than stopping during the peak pick up and drop off times during the school day, Witt said.
A third roundabout will be put in as part of phase two of the project. That one will open next fall at Johnson Ave and Jacolyn Drive. Witt said there’s likely more one the way.
"We’re going to be doing more and more of them. Surrounding communities are starting to get them. Coralville has a lot of them, Cedar Falls, Iowa City. We’re getting them now too," he said. "We’re always looking at other intersections where we potentially put a roundabout as well."
Some residents at open house said they supported the roundabout but many were concerned about the changes and feared that traffic would only get worse with the city bringing portions of the road from two lanes to one.
The roundabout is expected to be open by the first day of school on August 23. Witt said a crosswalk guard will be manned at the roundabout before and after school to assist the children crossing.