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TONY REDINGTON
521 Green Street Apartment 4
San Francisco, California 94133
415-402-0832            [log in to unmask]

                                                                                    February 28, 2007

Barre Mayor Thom Lauzon
and City Council
Barre City Hall
6 North Main Street
Barre, VT 05641

Dear Mayor Lauzon and Council:

                                                            Recommendation

This letter commends to the Barre City Council moving forward to undertake a full feasibility assessment of installing a single lane roundabout at the North Main Street intersection with Elm and Washington Streets in a design similar to that provided to the Council in 1993 by “Mr. Roundabout” Michael Wallwork, P.E., of Jacksonville. 

This recommendation builds on a recent evaluation of the City study by Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. (VHB Study, July 2005) and the June 2005 field visit at the intersection by national roundabout leader Howard McCulloch, New York Department of Transportation (NYDOT), with Mayor Peter Anthony,  Councilor Kevin Moulton, and other local citizens.

                                                            What Has Changed

The chief reasons for a feasibility assessment:
            1.  VHB Study properly concluded little future change in traffic expected, a reflection of the slow steady decline in entering traffic dating from the late 1980s which continues today.  From State data, cars entering the intersection in 2004 were 26,150, down 5.1% from peak numbers, 27,500, 1986-1990.
            2.  Lack of an evaluation in the VHB Study of a roundabout at the intersection even though through a careful shiftr of the City Park monument approximately 60 feet to the east or southeast, the concept originally sketched by Mr. Wallwork fort he Council in 1993.
            3.  Reviewed with McCulloch, VHB Study data shows perfectly balanced circulating traffic in each roundabout quadrant.  Thus, a one- lane roundabout with space to expand to two-lane in the future–similar in approach at Montpelier’s one-lane roundabout in a 140-foot diameter circle at US 2/302–can be assessed for Barre.
Barre City Council                           February 28, 2007                           Page 2

                                                
                                                            Era of Traffic Growth Over

In 1993 the future of Barre traffic appeared onward and upward.  In fact, traffic in urban Vermont including Barre peaked in the late 1980s and overall has been flat or declining ever since.  The North Main/Elm/Washingrton Streets intersection continues to decline.

The traffic entering the Barre intersection is almost the same as at US 2/302 (Walker Motors) ready for construction roundabout in Montpelier, and at Montpelier’s Main/Memorial/Northfield/Berlin intersection (US 2/US BR 2/VT 12) which is also gaining renewed interest by Montpelier for a roundabout also likely to be examined for single lane configuration with provision for future conversion for two-lane operation.
Both Montpelier intersections also have seen little change in traffic in the past two decades.

When Wallwork field reviewed several City intersections in 1993, traffic projections indicated a 30% traffic growth trend, increases which would challenge a two-lane roundabout capacity–growth which turns out to be non-existent.  Statewide, this decade may show a decline in car traffic, certainly no more than a percent or two increase with any increase concentrated on some interstate and other isolated road segments.  Fuel pricing trends and lack of driving age population growth (ages 20 to 60) over the next two decades in Vermont suggest continued flatness or decline in traffic numbers.

                                                            Roundabout Revolution Over

When Mr. Wallwork first visited Barre in 1993 there were barely a dozen U.S. installations of the new roundabout technology.  His design for Montpelier ushered in the revolution in the northeast in 1995.  The end of the roundabout revolution may well be marked by the policy decision by the NYDOT two years ago now which essentially banned further investments in signals thereby creating a “roundabouts only” policy. There are over 1,000 roundabouts in the U.S. now, and better than a roundabout opens now every day.  Vermont’s four roundabout population soon doubles with roundabouts at Montpelier (Walker Motors), the dangerous Washingrton US 302/110 intersection, White River Jct. (2), and Manchester Center’s two at “malfunction junction” (VT 11/30/7A) and the adjacent village center (VT 30/7A). 

Brattleboro, led by business interests, recently succeeded in getting major Putney Road signal conversions to roundabouts intersections into the State program.  Thus, Brattleboro which boasts the first U.S. “roundabout corridor” study (Wallwork, 1994) moves toward the first Vermont “corridor of roundabouts.”  (The first northeast “corridor of roundabouts”, five, built by NYDOT opened at the Northway Malta interchange last fall complete with a new multi-use paved pathway, a site worth a visit at the interchange just below Saratoga Springs.)  Finally, Keene (NH) gets its second roundabout later this

Barre City Council                           February 28, 2007                                       Page 3

year (now under construction) on its busiest Bypass intersection built by the State with
another (to be built with City funds) on tap later this year at its busiest downtown intersection on Main Street at the Post Office and Keene State College. . 

                                                            Prospect Street

A roundabout treatment of North Main/Elm/Washington Streets gains a long term solution.  This allows a separate evaluation of North Main/Prospect/Church Streets.  As in the case of Manchester Center, this second intersection may best be converted to a mini-roundabout, a configuration that accommodates all vehicles operating in any direction.

Barre City Center Roundabout–Tremendous Transportation Benefit

The Barre City Hall Park Roundabout (BCHPR) produces a set of almost unbelievable transportation benefits:
                                                
Barre City Hall Park Roundabout–Substantial Economic and Downtown Space Benefit

Because a single lane roundabout abolishes the need for expansive turn lanes and signal structures, considerable pavement can be transformed to public space for landscaping, street furniture and enhancements of the Park Hall area.  Plus there will be the roundabout center island providing more green space and an opportunity for scenic treatment. Increased access provided to pedestrians, reduced travel times into downtown, and scenic enhancements mean increased economic activity in the surrounding neighborhood ranging from the businesses to public performances at the
  1. Barre City Council                           February 28, 2007                                       Page 4

Opera House.  Last but not least, some of the paved area harvested can be added
to the Park itself making even better the jewel of Barre’s downtown.
  
The forgoing outlines some of the immediate benefits of the City Center Roundabout.  In addition there are the longer term benefits which include enabling denser development in adjacent areas along with the resulting increased tax potential for the City coffers.

Attached please find the 1993 Wallwork sketch, a list of references to related documents, and selected roundabout notes.
                          
In sum, a single-lane roundabout with an outside diameter of 130-140 feet appears
a real possibility and this letter urges a full scale feasibility study. 

                                                                        Sincerely,



                                                                        Tony Redington
                                                                        Transportation Policy



Enclosures (4)
  1. cc        Barre State Legislative Delegation
            Vermont Congressional Delegation
            Steve Gladczuk, Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission
            Vermont Bicycle Pedestrian Coalition
            Vermont Federal Highway Administration Division


ALR/ar











                                                                                                February 2007
                                                                                    

DOCUMENTS AND STUDIES RELATED TO BARRE CITY CENTER ROUNDABOUT

                        
Michael J. Wallwork, P.E., Florida Department of Transportation, 1993, roundabout
concept , North Main/Elm/Washington Streets, Barre.  (Note: This sketch is done on a “TOPICS” study map which also provides the dimensions of the Park area including the statue dimensions, park walkways, etc.)
  1. Michael J. Wallwork, P.E., Florida Department of Transportation, video tape of presentation on roundabouts before the Barre City Council, 1993 (VHS tapes in the Vermont Agency of Transportation Library)
  1. Times-Argus, November 25, 2005, “Barre seeks solution to City Park traffic woes” (p. C1).
  1. Tony Redington, letter to the Barre City Council, December 18, 2004 (includes reference to June 2005 roundabout training by New York Department of Transportation (NYDOT) engineer Howard McCulloch on June 24, 2005).
  1. Howard McCulloch of the NYDOT and Principal Engineer of NE Roundabouts June 24, 2005 field visit to City Hall Park with local officials including Mayor Peter Anthony, a meeting which identifies need to shift the monument to afford the needed 150 foot diameter space for a two-lane roundabout (further evaluation of traffic data shows potential for single lane roundabout allowing a smaller footprint).
Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. (VHB) analyses documents, 2005:
  1. –July 6, 2005 Memorandum “Barre City City Hall Park Alternatives” [sic], Project 51670.00, Greg Bakos, P.E., Chris Obay, P.E. (5 pages) 
            –April 26, 2005 “Barre City City Park Concept Study Circulating Traffic Concept”
–May 18, 2004 “Lanes, Volumes, Timings 6: US RTE 302 @Elm Street 12/29/06" (four pages)
                        
  1. Tony Redington, September 30, 2005 workng paper “Barre–Dimensions Related to Corner at Elm Street/North Main Street Toward Park Gazebo” This document identifies a 151 diameter multilane roundabout possible with a shift of the monument to the east or southeast.  Two pages.  




                                                                                                Tony Redington

                                                                                                Page one of two pages


BARRE AND ROUNDABOUTS–SOME COMMENTS

“The only good argument against the roundabout is
that there are no good arguments”
  1.                                                 Barry Crown, U.K.  traffic engineer, roundabout designer  and software author-- chief roundabout advisor to the New York Department of Transportation at a Keene, New Hampshire presentation


            The roundabout applied to Barre City streets brings tremendous benefits from this revolutionary technology that dates from its beginning in 1966 in Britain.

1.  TRUCK MOVEMENTS   Trucks love roundabouts.  Most turn moves in a roundabout are easier for a truck than at a signal.  First, roundabouts cut vehicle stops by 60%.  This explains how all vehicles save wear and tear, and why trucks love roundabouts with the time and energy savings of reduced stopping.   At Montpelier’s roundabout (Keck Circle) 42 tractor trailers daily negotiate the 107 foot diameter circular travelway --Barre City Hall Park Roundabout (BCHPR) would have a minimum diameter of 130 feet.  The new Walker Motors roundabout (140 feet diameter) serves about 84 big trucks daily and the Brattleboro Keene Turn Roundabout tractor trailer numbers 900 daily. 

The VHB Study suggests the inability of trucks to make a left from Elm Street to North Main Street westbound misses the fact that such a turn is simple: just go around the circle and out the North Main Street west exit (or, if desired, back up Elm Street!).  The roundabout is a natural turn- around mechanism, a move done quite often in Montpelier by tractor trailer delivery vehicles (and tour buses!) because of the narrow and constricted Montpelier city streets.

2.  PEDESTRIANS While the 90% reduction in pedestrian injuries as well as severity has been well known, the impact of increasing numbers of roundabouts on safety performance of roundabouts in place is just beginning to be understood.  France increased its roundabout numbers from 10,000 in 1993 to 27,000 in 2003 while the actual number of fatalities (2) and injuries (about 1,500) remained unchanged.  The more roundabouts the better the performance of existing roundabouts!

3.  TRAFFIC CALMING The roundabout calms traffic about a block in all directions or about a football field distant (300 feet).  A series of roundabouts, research shows, reduces vehicle speeds in a corridor while reducing through travel times.  The reductions of speeds in a corridor may explain why two roundabouts near each other may well re-enforce the safety benefit of both to the good.
                                                                                    Page two of two pages

BARRE AND ROUNDABOUTS–SOME COMMENTS

4. VERMONT ROUNDABOUT TRAININGS FROM THE TOP PRACTITIONERS OPERATING IN NORTH AMERICA--THEY ARE ALL AT VERMONT’S BECK AND CALL  “Mr. Roundabout” Michael J. Wallwork, P.E., of Jacksonville brought the roundabout revolution to Vermont in 1992 and a year later to Barre.  He designed the first roundabout to replace a signal (Gainsville, FL) and the first roundabout in the northeast, Montpelier’s Keck Circle (1995).   Wallwork formerly an Australian engineer,  and three other roundabout leaders carried out about a dozen trainings over the past fourteen years.  The other roundabout leaders who trained Vermont engineers, public works and and policy people are:

Finally Wallwork and one other engineer, Leif Ourston of Santa Barbara lead the early years of the roundabout revolution in North America. Ourston designed the first North American roundabout built in Las Vegas in 1990, had input to the first northeastern interstate interchange and two- two lane roundabout (Brattleboro, 1999), and consulted with the Keene group that successfully forced cancellation of a bypass expansion by installing three roundabouts (the busiest intersection roundabout under construction will be operating before year end).

It is fair to suggest that one or more of these individuals or their firms could be involved in roundabout development anywhere in Vermont, including Barre.



                                                            Tony Redington
                                                            2/28/07
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