Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Vermont Roundabout Celebrates 19th Birthday

Montpelier's Keck Circle celebrated its 19th birthday and my letter to Mayor Hollar and City Councilor takes note of the 20th anniversary coming up in 2015 and the kinds of changes in transportation since that first northeastern U.S. roundabout was built--there are now fourteen roundabouts in Vermont, about 4,000 in the nation and several states and provinces in Canada with "roundabouts first" policies in place. 

Dear Mayor Hollar and Councilors:

On this day, the 19th birthday of Keck Circle, am writing to look forward to Sunday, August 16, 2015 when the first modern roundabout in the northeast (east of Las Vegas and north of Maryland) ends the teenage years. 

Keck Circle, the 19th roundabout built in the United States, represents a modern technology dating from its inception in 1966 in the U.K. and composed of stone-age materials.  It is my hope to perhaps lunch with some of the City committee members and councilors from the 1993-1995 period of study, design and construction. 

It is noteworthy the $64,000 all-City funded project design costs were $2,300.  Pinkham Engineering of Burlington, later merged into Summit Engineering, handled the design with the involvement of Michael J. Wallwork of Florida, then with the Florida Department of Transportation and since the late 1990s a leader in roundabout design nationally.

At some point the City certainly will update this historic intersection.  The original plan featured a slightly narrower entry on the Main Street northbound and the large vehicle override of the eastbound entry on Spring merits attention.  Certainly as we renew our core urban streets with cycle track Keck Circle bicycle accommodation needs at least a minimum upgrade to on/off ramping where approach lanes narrow thereby allowing cyclist the choice of shifting onto shared space with the walk mode along with shared crosswalks—you will find more than one Middle School student traveling on the sidewalk north of Keck Circle and Main Street below while on their trip to and from school.   Wallwork led the national evolution of bicycle accommodation design to—at a minimum--on/off ramps on both single and multi-lane roundabouts in recent years. 

As you are well aware a roundabout at Barre Street and Main Street remains as the chosen treatment to connect Winooski East and West Bikepaths—easily possible as part of the re-use of the beverage outlet re-development.

Mayor Hollar and City Council          August 16, 2015                                       Page 2

Montpelier’s two roundabouts played a key role in my neighborhood’s North Avenue corridor study just now ending with two field trips including one where our resident group was given the positive emergency vehicle experience at your roundabouts by Fire Chief Robert Gowans.  The outcome of our study includes an unprecedented long term recommendation for cycle track from end to end of the 2.8 mile corridor and conversion of three of the current seven signalized intersections to roundabouts.

You may find the various video material of our November 1, 2013 field visit (particularly the 5:43 second segment) taken on that last summer-like Friday taken when school let out at the Middle School, then later at the peak 4-5 p.m. traffic, about 2,100 vehicles an hour, at the US 2/302 roundabout.  Note the Keck Circle “walking school bus” from Union, the ambulance run, the rookie driver operation of a chartered Greyhound bus, and the two people in the splitter island refuge viewing the wind-driven wheel atop the bicycle sculpture.  http://goo.gl/DdajOC 

As you all recognize a revolution in transportation begun in the 1990s with Montpelier roundabouts and transportation paths a reflection of the early period when the City and the State attained regional leadership.  Now on the immediate horizon for Montpelier are cycle track to bring bicycling to all regardless of age or skill.  Further we are near both intercity and commuter rail with more than a thousand workers accessing your worksites via 12-20 trains daily stopping at the new transit center (already 50 Link bus runs each workday service handling about 500 individual commuters from Burlington to Montpelier, Middlebury and St. Albans with the first Link bus dating from 2003).

Yours truly,  Tony Redington

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