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Roundabout may see some minor changes
By THOMAS C. TOBIN
© St. Petersburg Times, published August 1, 2000
CLEARWATER -- After three days of public hearings on the beleaguered roundabout at Clearwater Beach, city administrators will propose a list of short-term fixes that one consultant says could dramatically reduce accidents.
The decision is based on what appeared to be the wishes of a majority of residents who attended the last hearing Monday night at the Harborview Center.
A large segment of the crowd of about 150 appeared to favor a bolder approach, but no serious proposals for major changes were entertained.
"Small changes produce big benefits," said the city's consultant, Barry Crown, a British roundabout expert who has worked with city traffic officials to come up with several proposed adjustments.
Since May, Crown said, accidents on the roundabout have decreased by about 60 percent. Crown credits recent, minor changes such as adding signs that encourage drivers to get into the proper lanes, some restriping at the eastbound exit to Memorial Causeway and a traffic signal that periodically blocks westbound cars from entering the roundabout off the causeway.
During that time, traffic counts have remained the same, at about 40,000 cars a day, Crown said.
He suggested a handful of additional changes and confidently predicted they would bring even bigger reductions in the accident count.
These and other improvements will be outlined in a report to be given to the City Commission within a week. Another report that will include the costs of the improvements won't be complete until September, said Public Works Administrator Mahshid Arasteh.
If the smaller changes don't work, Crown said, the city then could onsider bolder approaches such as lanes that bypass the roundabout.
Despite the accident reductions since May, the roundabout is well on its way to becoming the city's most accident-prone intersection this year, with more than 300 reported since Dec. 15, according to figures from Clearwater police.
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