Frequently Asked Questions: Roundabout Project

TEAP Study 2019 7th Ave & HWY 67
rpt-FINAL-Camanche_07_30_2019 (002).pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [3.1 MB]

The City of Camanche has identified the intersection of 7th Avenue and Highway 67 as a safety concern.  It is the single highest volume of traffic accidents for any intersection in the city.  A request was made to the Iowa Department of Transportation to conduct a study of the intersection to help find a solution.  A Traffic Enhancement Assistance Program (TEAP) study was performed by an Iowa engineering firm selected randomly by the DOT and the results were compiled into a report.  The report is available online at the city’s website for your review. 

 

The recommendation from the TEAP study is that this intersection is an excellent candidate for a roundabout.  In their opinion, this would mostly eliminate the high speed impacts which frequently occur here.  Based on this recommendation the City pursued a Transportation Safety Improvement Program grant from the DOT.  The results of the application were released in November of 2020.  Out of 48 requests, Camanche ranked third in funding.  The full amount of $500,000 has been designated for this project. 

 

The overall project is expected to require approximately $880,000.  The next part of the process is for the city to apply for a USTEP grant which could provide an additional $200,000.  Indications are positive that the full $200,000 is available for the project.  The remaining $180,000 is the City of Camanche’s responsibility.  The City will seek additional funding from sources such as RPA, CCDA, and any other grant resource.

 

UPDATE::: The City of Camanche has applied for $100,000 of funding from the Regional Planning Authority (RPA).  This came after the City's RPA funded 9th Avenue project came in $100,000 under estimate.  The RPA encouraged the City to apply for the $100,000 to apply towards the roundabout project.  This funding is designated by the RPA.  These are federal funds filtered through the State of Iowa to the RPA.  The RPA board then determines which porjects they will fund through an application process.  

 

Another aspect of this project is the desire to eliminate major accidents from exposing our public safety personnel to highway hazards.  There is not enough staffing to slow traffic during an aid scene, and it is frequent that passersby are rubbernecking or ignoring the flashing lights.  Eliminating the dangerous crashes removes the exposure to the safety of the police and firefighter/paramedic crew.

 

There have been many questions or comments concerning the roundabout.  Below are some frequently asked questions.

 

  1. This is the most expensive option.  Why not use one of the less expensive options?

 

There were three alternative options for this intersection. 

 

  1. A 4-way stop was the least desirable as stopping traffic on 67 is a traffic disruption. Lowering the speed limit does not prevent the difficulties created by people turning left off of 67 and onto 7th Avenue.
  2. The intersection did not meet the criteria to warrant a traffic signal. 
  3. Turn lanes are nearly as expensive as a roundabout and do not resolve the issue of high speed collisions.  It is important to note that all TSIP grant requests for turn lanes were denied.

 

  1. How can trucks possibly navigate a roundabout?  And what about the oversized loads?

The design of a single lane roundabout is such that it maintains a very large apron in the center area for trucks to be able to ride on in order to make the necessary turns.  Also, trucks are no longer allowed to turn south on 7th Avenue to go into Camanche.  Oversized loads have been redirected to Hwy 30 instead of travelling Hwy 67, so this problem is mostly resolved.

 

  1. Isn’t this going to cause more accidents because people do not understand how to use them?

Statistics show that while the number of accidents may not decrease a great deal, the number of dangerous high speed accidents with severe vehicle damage or bodily injury is nearly eliminated. 

  1. Why can’t we do something else, like an overpass on 9th Avenue for the trains?

Although this is a fair idea, this funding is not available for a project of that nature.  This funding is designed specifically for traffic safety.  Any of the train backup issues are more related to convenience, and frankly, are far more expensive. 

  1. Seniors will have a hard time dealing with the roundabouts.  How will they manage?

Statistics will show that seniors adapt to new circumstances just fine.  If they have difficulties, they are free to use other routes to enter or exit the City without needing to use the roundabout intersection.

  1. Won’t this increase traffic on other routes?

Possibly.  It is quite common though that as drivers get used to the traffic feature, they end up using it because it becomes more convenient.

  1. Why not just lower the speed limit?

The City could make that request.  The DOT controls the speed limit on the highway.  However, experience shows that people do not obey the speed limit.  60% of the accidents occur at this intersection as a result of left hand turns from 67 to 7th Avenue creating confusion and attempts from drivers to dart across or around the intersection unsafely.  Ultimately, changing the speed limit will not change this behavior

  1. Wouldn’t more police patrols change behavior?

No.  There are thousands of cars driving Highway 67 every day.  If the City ticketed 10 drivers per day, it would not make a dent in the number of speeders.  Additionally, should the City begin making frequent traffic stops in this area, it certainly would obtain a reputation.  This is not necessarily a reputation the City would like to have.  Moreover, highway traffic stops are the most dangerous types of traffic stops that officers make.  This becomes an avoidable risk. One final note on traffic tickets: The City does not make large amounts of money from traffic violations.  Most of those citation revenues go to the county and state.

  1. Doesn’t this require a referendum vote?

No.  The City would not be bonding beyond the necessary dollar amount to require a referendum vote.  In fact, it is highly unlikely that the City will bond any money.  The City’s portion will be low enough that it will be able to utilize available Road Use Tax Funds (RUTF)

 

  1. Who came up with this idea?

No one.  The request was for direction from the State in how to improve safety at this intersection.  A study was performed (TEAP), and with all of the traffic history from the previous 5 years combined with the volume of traffic and observed traffic behaviors, the TEAP study recommended the roundabout as the solution to the safety concern.  A roundabout study was not requested.  The TEAP study merely recommended the roundabout to resolve the safety issue at the intersection.

 

We are sure there are other questions.  If you would like one asked and responded to on this FAQ, please use the form below to submit your question.

The first priority of any municipality is public safety.  The City of Camanche has demonstrated this priority with its attention to staffing, planning and programs with public safety at the forefront of every discussion.  Internally, we place the safety of our employees in front of every action and decision we make as an organization.  A safe community is one of the greatest concerns for current and potential new citizens.  We will continue to strive towards maintaining these standards in whatever means are at our disposal.

Additional Information

Below are some informational documents concerning roundabouts.  Please review them if you have concerns over this type of safety feature.

 

Also, there is a link to the Iowa Department of Transportation website concerning roundabouts.  

Benefits Brochure.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [2.2 MB]
Driving Flyer.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [906.4 KB]
Truck How To.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [1.6 MB]
Yield Flyer.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [1.3 MB]

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