There was recently an article posted on hudsonvalley.ynn.com concerning a local dangerous intersection and its deadly consequences.
I was beat to the punch, for I was prepared to post a column dealing with similar driver-related problems in Sullivan County.
The roads in Sullivan County can be very dangerous, particularly in the summer months.
A few years ago, two traffic circles were erected in Liberty, each separated by less than one mile. They were constructed in response to observations that many drivers were speeding dangerously through the town’s main thoroughfare, State Route 52.
As reported in the local news, these circles were designed to slow down traffic by forcing drivers to be more cautious as they enter the circles.
However, traffic circle intersections cause much confusion, mainly because drivers don’t know who is supposed to yield to whom as the various spurs are encountered. So, to avoid possible accidents, slowing down is a necessity.
In other words, highly-dangerous traffic circles as envisioned by some town officials SHOULD be more dangerous to achieve the goal of getting drivers to slow down! Never mind that there are alternate ways to achieve the same safety goal WITHOUT making the roads more dangerous.
One such tried and proven method is through the installation of traffic lights. Being automatic and passive in nature they safely regulate traffic, almost entirely eliminating faulty decision-making by drivers, greatly reducing the probability of collisions.
Another proven method is to use police force to regulate traffic and issue citations when warranted. When word of that approach becomes well-known drivers tend to slow down.
I suspect that neither of these sensible approaches were adopted because it costs money to install and maintain traffic lights and police patrols have to be paid.
Traffic circles, by comparison, once installed may bear little in maintenance costs. It therefore seems evident that saving money, rather than lives was the main reason for installing those monstrosities!
In other crowded areas of the nation, like New Jersey for instance, outdated circles have either been replaced with traffic lights and overpasses, or have undergone safety design improvements.
Yet, in Liberty, the national trend toward eliminating circles was ignored, leaving drivers with new versions of traffic circle deathtraps.
Sure, one of the circles, the nearest to the Route 17 intersections looks pretty with its enclosed lawn and colorful flags, but that’s no consolation for drivers who are involved in serious accidents due to traffic circles’ built-in confusion factor.
The other Liberty circle, closer to the downtown area forces the approaching driver to stop before entering, then look left for oncoming traffic, and then look right for cars entering at the next intersection.
Need to traverse 180 degrees to the opposite side of the circle?
Watch out because just before you get there, a sidewalk juts out into the road, forcing you to veer sharply to the left to avoid driving up and onto the pedestrian walkway. Instantly watch out for oncoming traffic approaching you from the left lane, appearing as though you’re about to be hit you head-on!
It was a stupid decision to save money by installing the Liberty traffic circles and they should be removed before someone gets killed!