VALPARAISO | About 15 people attended Wednesday's meeting on the five-points roundabout with objections from only a couple of residents about it causing difficulty making left turns into businesses without the traffic signals creating breaks.
Ray Stepanovich, who works at Rittenhouse Senior Living on Vale Park Road east of the planned roundabout at Vale Park, Calumet Avenue and Roosevelt Road, said the breaks created by the traffic lights are sometimes all that enables him to turn into the complex. He is worried about residents and visitors to the complex dealing with that issue.
"I don't doubt the roundabout will ease the traffic at five points, but it will transfer the traffic problems to the businesses and their entrances and exits," Stepanovich said. "Now, in peak hours, as soon as the light turns, people floor it to get through the light. With the roundabout, they will have a 20 mph head start."
City Engineering Director Tim Burkman and Chris Murphy, of American Structurepoint, which designed the roundabout, said the steady flow of traffic through the roundabout is designed to create breaks naturally that will allow left turns.
George Warnock said the decision to build the roundabout should have been put on a referendum to let residents vote on it. Burkman said the project has been discussed at several public meetings and the public was urged to submit concerns and questions over the past five years of planning for the roundabout.
The project got the support of a man who said he moved to Valparaiso in 2001 and has done all he can to avoid the five-points intersection because of the delays. He said he likes roundabouts "because you are moving, not sitting, idling and wasting gas."
Murphy said the key statistic was from the eastgate roundabout, which had accidents involving 13 injuries severe enough for an ambulance to be called during the final year of the old triangle intersection. Since the roundabout opened, no one has needed an ambulance although the number of accidents is only slightly less.
Burkman said he hears more and more positive reactions to the eastgate roundabout, including from people who originally feared it. The city's website includes updates on the construction and detours and offers a tutorial on how to drive in roundabouts. The Web address is www.valpo.us and it is under the engineering department's city projects heading.
Construction by Walsh & Kelly is expected to start in about two weeks and be completed by December.