Smith Level Roundabout

The Carrboro Transportation Board has recommended a roundabout at the Carrboro High School entrance at Smith Level and Rock Haven roads. My guess is that public resistance to this roundabout may be strong. (Read the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Status Report, Vol. 36, No. 7). I further doubt NCDOT and the school system will push it. My guess is that without serious community education about the difference between a modern day roundabout and a Boston rotary this proposal will go over like a lead brick.

Furthermore, according to the Chapel Hill News, Steve Scroggs, assistant superintendent CHCCS, is concerned that this roundabout may put the third high school behind schedule or raise costs. The next step is for the aldermen to ask the school board for its opinion on the roundabout. I personally like roundabouts--- they reduce injury crashes and intersection delays. If there is room for a sufficiently large roundabout at this location and if we can be assured that pedestrian crossing will be safe for all, a roundabout at this intersection could work well. For more reading go to: Federal Highway Administration's Roundabouts: An Information Guide, Chapter 5 - Safety .


I go to meetings at this location twice a month. Beyond those waiting at the bus stop near Smith Level/Rock Haven, there is no foot traffic. However, what happens when the school comes? I live nearby and many people in the area are excited about their kids walking/biking to school. Putting a bolus of teenagers into the mix will certainly change the outlook.

What other options are out there beyond a circle? Obviously a traffic light, but they must be considering widening, right? All those school buses and cars added to the load will pretty quickly back up Smith Level from the Culbreth light up to Rock Haven. Are there going to be two entrances to the school? When the bus goes down to Highland Hills there is a big turn around that must be at the back of the school grounds.

Has anyone considered having a town bus pass through SV out the back way to Culbreth and down to the school?

The safety benefits of single-lane modern roundabouts are pretty hard to argue with. Research from multiple areas (such as that cited above) shows crash reductions in the 30-60% range at intersections, primarily due to reducing the number of conflict points but also through maintaining low speeds through the intersection.

I would think that the roundabout would not impact the high school construction schedule. A roundabout was recently put in on Woodcroft Parkway in Durham, and to my knowledge, the road was never fully closed to traffic during construction.

We've got several new roundabouts in Raleigh, and a number more in the works. They seem popular.

Not to mention the traffic circles in Durham at Erwin/751 and Ephesus Church/Pope. Most drivers in the Carrboro area have probably encountered one of these already at another location. What evidence is there that such a proposal would be resisted at all, other than a statistical likelihood that drivers unfamiliar with traffic circles tend to resist them?

I think the points of contention will be 1) pedestrian safety, especially for the blind and otherwise handicapped, and 2) size and expense. I believe you need more ROW for a roundabout. NCDOT will likely want the largest apron and diameter.

The Town sent a letter to the School Board late last week seeking the School Board's input.

A number of years ago before the Calvander intersection was made into its present incarnation, I lobbied Carrboro Alderman and it's then transportation planner Kenneth Withrow, as well as the State engineer in charge of the project, Mike Cowan, to consider a modern roundabout. They couldn't care less. Only a couple of years too late did Kenneth Withrow contact me to seek more information. Below are my letters to the CH Herald that was published and to Mike Cowan.

If the Carrboro Board of Aldermen and involved traffic engineers defacto believe that something must be done to improve the Calvander intersection, a so-called "modern roundabout" should be examined as a likely treatment.

This design involves a precisely sized traffic circle with
raised channelization, which together force vehicles into
low speed negotiation. No left turns are ever made. Traffic
entering the roundabout yields to vehicles already on it. Everyone keeps moving, albeit slowly, which is less frustrating and refreshingly different than conventional stop and go. Time, gas consumption, and pollution are reduced due to reduced idling time and the conservation of momentum.

Studies have shown that a modern roundabout reduces the incidence of crashes because of reduced conflicts and slow speeds. Collisions are also less severe because those that do occur are at low speed and at glancing rather than right angles.

A modern roundabout has greater traffic capacity than a signalized intersection. They are less expensive because less
space is needed and no signals are there to be maintained or fail. They are also much more attractive because of the reduced pavement and lack of signals, and because the inner circle can be nicely landscaped with low vegetation. Reduced pavement means less runoff likely to flood Bolin Creek.

Perhaps a beautiful modern roundabout can even be a source of community pride and focus. A conventionally widened intersection will never be more than it is- a blight devoid of

Dear Mr. Cowan,

Having followed local newspaper accounts of the proposed left turn lane additions to the Calvander intersection, it is apparent that this is a contentious issue.

Has a so-called "modern roundabout" been examined as a potential treatment?

This design involves a precisely sized traffic circle with raised channelization, which together force vehicles into low speed negotiation. This is not a typical traffic circle like in Pittsboro. No more than 20 mph is possible.

Some benefits of a modern roundabout include:
● Reduced incidence of crashes because of reduced conflicts (no left turns are ever made) and slow speeds. Collisions are also less severe because those that do occur are at low speed and at glancing rather than right angles.
● Greater thruput than a signalized intersection.
● They are less expensive because less space is needed and no signals are there to be maintained or fail.
● They are much more attractive because of the reduced pavement and lack of signals, and because the inner circle can be nicely landscaped with low vegetation.
● Reduced pavement means less runoff likely to flood Bolin Creek.
● Everyone keeps moving, albeit slowly, which is less frustrating and refreshingly different than conventional stop and go.
● Time, gas consumption, and pollution are reduced due to reduced idling time and the conservation of momentum.

Perhaps a beautiful modern roundabout can even be a source of community pride and focus. A conventionally widened intersection will never be more than it is.

Though an engineering study would need to be done, it is likely that this design would negate the need to take private property or reduce the amount taken.

The following site offers additional information:

Thank you for your consideration.


While my experience is that roudabouts move traffic well (i.e 751/Erwin), I fear they greatly impair pedstrian traffic b/c there is never a break in the traffic. That has been my concern about putting one at Weaver and N. Greensboro. Does anyone know of a pedestrian-friendly roundabout?

I find that roundabouts are more pedistrian friendly then other intersection designs. Although there is no light you only have to cross one lane at a time,. Effectively you wait for the first car that chooses to obey the law and stop for you. The car then shields you from all other traffic while you cross. My experience is that they are fast for pedestrians.

It was interesting when the first one went into my home town. It took about 2 months before people figured it out, but no collisons happened while people learned.

David, I was recently in DC and had to walk across a huge traffic circle, Dupon Circle, and agree with Josh that they are very pedestrian friendly because you are only crossing one lane of traffic at at time.

Josh and Joan, thanks. Now that you mention DuPont Circle, I lived in DC for 4 years and I never considered any of those circles any more pedestrian friendly than a regular intersection and perhaps less. I'll keep an open mind, but I'm not sold on them yet, in terms of how it affects high-use pedestrian areas.

I don't think Dupont circle is a good model for what is being discussed here. I haven't seen it myself, but I think I found the the right link at google maps...,-77.043369&spn=0.002943,0.0...

It looks like some crazy thing involving 3-4 lanes deep and 10 roads going into it. That would not be fun. Anything big enough to have a park in the middle is not exactly an intersection as much as strange road design. Can someone find a good arial view of a 'roundabout' as proposed here?

In a normal 1 lane roundabout pedestrians don't cross to the middle but rather go around the circle cutting just one lane of side street traffic at a time.

I'd like to see us try a roundabout somewhere in Carrboro but I don't think Rock Haven and Smith Level is the best trial spot for two reasons.

1. Too many construction trucks using Smith Level as their cut through along with all the other traffic that wants to avoid traffic jams on S. Columbia Street. I'd rather see a stop light with cross walks to ensure more certainty that children going and coming from the school are protected from drivers who may not be familiar with roundabouts.

2. The Transportation Advisory Board recommended this as an 'entrance' to the town. We in the southern portion of the EJT may be annexed some day. While annexation isn't on the table, the rapid growth of Chatham County may motivate the two towns to stake their claim. To avoid the feelings of disconnect experienced by residents in northeast Carrboro, it would be nice not to create barriers to our future enfranchisement.

While I've encountered a number of roundabouts of various designs in the U.S. , it wasn't until a couple years ago, when I spent a few weeks driving around Australia (left of center BTW ;-) ), that I got a great grounding in their use. Australia uses roundabouts extensively within both urban and rural settings. After a few, I found them to be much more natural, in many respects, than our typical cross-street intersections. Traffic flow was preserved, speeds were controlled - it seemed a great way to manage traffic.

During the RLC debacle I learned a bit more about roundabouts - enough to make me wonder why we weren't using them as a matter of course to control and manage safe traffic flows within our community. Of course, it was during this period that DV suggested that local folk were too stupid to understand their usage.

I'm hoping that the Smith Level roundabout will be designed, implemented and utilized in such a fashion as to dispel DV-like concerns ;-).

Josh, try the first link in the post for picture. I still wonder if there is enough room for a large enough roundabout at the Smith Level location. Has DOT staked out the roundabout?

Will, I agree--my husband and I spent a few weeks driving around Ireland a few years ago and learned to appreciate the traffic circles there.

Again - from the driver's perspective I like roundabouts alot. I"m not convinced at all in terms of pedestrians.

Terri: How would a roundabout cause a feeling of disconnect? Trucks are not actually a problem. As wierd as it sounds they just pretty much go straight through. Doesn't create a problem in my hometown where it is at one of the city gateways and lots of trucks, firetrucks, and buses go through it.

Mary: In the very link you reference me to there are diagrams of various sized roundabouts compared to traditional square intersections. I am not an expert, but it looks like the current intersection is pretty big for it's size already because of the angled approach of Rock Haven:

Cool map. I've always thought the building on the corner (?dialysis center) is too close to the road. Maybe if SLR is straightened, the building isn't in the way.

NCDOT staked out a roundabout in front of my house. After aligning the roundabout center with proposed road improvements then allowing for maximum size, the roundabout and sidewalks turned into a monster. The staked out diameter nearly fell inside my neighbor's garage. The point is, that until the roundabout is staked out, you don't know what will be impacted.

And... Money is always an issue... I would guess that more land will need to be acquired for a roundabout. Who would pay for the extra ROW? NCDOT (doubt it), Carrboro?, CHCCS?, Orange County?

If CHCCS pays, it is the same thing as Orange County paying.

Josh, I think I get what you are saying, but I had to laugh at the characterization "pretty big for it's size" - what does that mean? ;)

I agree, David. Roundabouts work well for vehicles, but don't they encourage drivers to look left and go? How do you make them safer for pedestrians?

Josh--I was responding to the transporation advisory board suggestion that the roundabout be installed to create an 'entrance' to the town.

As for the 'trucks not a problem' statement, please remember that this will be a school crossing area. I don't want trucks to 'pretty much go straight through'--I want them to have to stop and look for pedestrians before proceeding. Same for all other drivers. All intersections should be safe, but school crossings should go overboard with safety.

Mark, I thought about whether or not there was a distinction there before I posted... I wasn't sure if the County can somehow make only City (or County) schools (residents) bear school construction 'frills'. I admit I don't understand many things about financing school construction...

I am a member of Carrboro's Transportation Advisory Board, but am writing here as John Q. Citizen. A few observations.

1) Roundabouts are safer; for vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists. In both frequency and severity of accidents for all three groups, roundabouts are safer. I cannot emphasize this enough.

2) Roundabouts save time, and reduce emissions.

3) The only negative associated with roundabouts is that public opposition tends to be greater than support before the roundabout is constructed; but the opposite is true within six months after construction.

To address a few concerns on this thread:

A roundabout will not eliminate the 7:30-8:15 back-up on Smith Level. It will reduce (on average) travel time at all other times (unless you like doing 50mph when you happen to catch all the green lights on the way into town).

All lanes coming into the roundabout will be separated by a raised concrete "splitter" before the actual roundabout begins; it will serve two functions: to begin to guide the vehicle into the roundabout, as well as to provide a place for pedestrian crosswalks well before the actual roundabout. Motorists will be alerted by signage pre-roundabout, the splitters will have signage at the crosswalk (much like the crosswalk in front of the century center), and motorists will deal with pedestrians before they ever begin to "look left" to enter the roundabout.

Trucks will not run straight through the roundabout (across the emergency apron, and even that is not a straight shot, the center of the roundabout will be raised). If they try, they should be ticketed. What I think the roundabout will do is, with the exception of trips to Merritt's grit pit, move a good portion of the truck trafic over to 15-501 where it belongs.

As for the size, DOT has already designed a roundabout for this site; they did so when there was a request for one when an apartment complex was planned for the site prior to the school plan. The land required for the roundabout is slightly larger than a standard intersection, put the actual impervious surface tends to be less, especially if the center section is landscaped. Standard intersections typically use more asphalt leading up to the intersections with widening for turn lanes, etc.

As to the entrance way question, this intersection will probably be Carrboro's gateway for the near and distant future. Despite DOT's desire to multilane Smith Level (and just look at the footprint of the Morgan Creek bridge and the new intersection at Starpoint if you don't think that is DOT's dream), the watershed issue and it's accompanying limited development will probably hold that off. In addition,the fact that once you go just a bit past Smith Level/Rock Haven, the jurisdiction is split; Chapel Hill to the east, Carrboro west.

As to the possibility of a roundabout at this site, let's flip the proverbial coin. The school system is on a deadline, they want this school to open on time, and it should.

DOT is the 800lb.gorilla in all this. They oppose the idea, their "logic" being the road capacity issue, which of course, if you run to its irrational end, means we should keep laying asphalt until there is no visible land anywhere.

My hope is that the school and town can come together and present a united front to DOT, and come up with a temporary alternative to major intersection construction should DOT balk. An example would be to put a left turn lane in on Rock Creek, and have traffic police controlling the intersection during school morning and evening traffic peaks. Once a standard intersection is installed, it won't be ripped up for a roundabout.

The last time I talked with Steve Scroggs, he had just received the figures on the cost on the estimated cost of the standard intersection. He was not a happy camper. I personally think the school system would be in favor of a roundabout (for the safety issue if nothing else), as long as, again, it doesn't delay the school opening.

The installation of a roundabout at Smith Level/Rock Haven is, to be cliched, a no-brainer. But as we all know, brains do not necessarily drive public policy. We shall see.

In defense of NCDOT, they claim to have wasted a ton of taxpayer money designing stuff in Orange County that will never be built. Seldom is one side totally at fault.


The question is "why aren't the projects they designed being built?" For instance, they designed the "superstreet" for the Erwin/15-501 intersection but budgeted an unreasonably low amount to build it. When they bid it out the lowest bid came in about 50% higher than they budgeted. So they bid it out again and, guess what, again the lowest bid came in way over their budget. Now apparently they're going to try for a third time this spring.

I find it hard to be sympathetic to an organization that spends millions of our tax dollars designing and widening
I-40 from NC-147 to 15-501 but forgets to specify in the contract that the contractor needs to cut expansion joints 3 inches deep rather than 1 1/2 inches deep so that the new surface is now separating from the old. And are you going to tell me that over the several years that this project was ongoing not one NCDOT person could be bothered to check how the project was being carried out? If this were a private corporation a whole lot of heads would have rolled on such a major screwup. Hey, what the heck, it's only money. They can make it up by delaying another project - perhaps the widening & improvements on Weaver Dairy road which, based on the current schedule, will only be about 4 years late.

I'm not going to tell you anything George. Sounds like you have a case against them there. What NCDOT seems to be sore about is designing 4 lane roads only to find out later that the towns want the roads to be fewer lanes. It's their side of the story...


I'm sure you're right that a number of NCDOT people feel like they're slighted because they spend all their time designing beautiful roads and we turn around and say "we don't like them". I have this vision of a bunch of engineers with pocket protectors and slide rules that design excellent 4-lane roads that move cars along quickly and efficiently. But I sense that the engineers don't take into account that there are people in those cars and that their lives involve more than simply being moved from place to place like some sort of packaged goods. And I sense that the engineers don't take into account the fact that many people don't consider roads the only means of mobility nor necessarily the primary means of mobility.

Unfortunately, many of us don't have the same love for roads that the engineers do. We view them as necessary but not a goal in themselves. Until we're all on the same wavelength I fear that the process of getting NCDOT to build roads in this area will be a long and arduous one.

Some at NCDOT are very pro bike lane and like what towns like Carrboro and Asheville envision for future transportation. I'm sure there are some good, reasonable engineers working at NCDOT and sometimes these engineers have to design roads that they are ordered to design-- not roads that they would like to design.

I think all at NCDOT now have a good general idea of what both our towns want. It's good that expectations are much clearer than they used to be. Many good, smart people work at NCDOT. The beauracracy is not their fault. I'm not an apologist for NCDOT, but I do grow weary of across the board bashing.

Mary, I think a lot of this boils down to "attitude". DOT has one, in a similar vein to that of the Bush Administration. Absolute power ....corrupts absolutely. To put it in transportation terms, their negotiation, or collaboration skills in the early phases of projects consist of "It's my way or the highway", period.

I am not suggesting their are not good people working inside DOT. There are. But the inefficiency and corresponding waste of the taxpayer money as a result of "the attitude" are staggering.

As an example, just look at Carrboro's history with the recent discussions re: Smith Level Road. If the town makes a request for road improvement that is in the vein of DOT, i.e., this is what we want, and will ONLY accept, DOT responds with, "OK, we'll get back to you in twenty years or so."

So the town, wanting improvements to be made, is forced to gently request improvements, which kicks DOT's aforementioned "sliderulers" into overdrive and they spend gobs of money with multi-lane mania design.

They proudly bring their design back to the town, which responds with a resounding "GAK!" And then the "negotiation" period begins, lasting years, and results in a situation in which, I kid you not, DOT will answer Carrboro's rejection of the multi-lane design and request for a two-lane road w/sidewalks and bikepaths with a two-year-old response:

"Well, we'll build that road for you, but YOU have pay for the sidewalks, and YOU have to take over maintenance of the road!!"

In other words, Carrboro wants a road design that would save the state millions to build, but because it's not what we (DOT) want, we're gonna show you who's boss, somehow, someway.

That's one bad attitude.

Tom, I'm glad we got to talk about this 'live' this morning. I hope the SLR roundabout does work out.

I'm a person whose life would be greatly impacted, in many ways, by WHATEVER traffic mechanism gets installed at this intersection.

Therefore, I'm very motivated to participate in whatever the most productive fora are on the topic.

If someone would make sure that such meetings are suitably publicized, I'd be grateful.

Perhaps I could even make constructive suggestions? Two come to mind:

(a) a significant amount said 7:30 - 8:15 morning traffic in that area comes from trips to the FPG school kiss'n'go line, which, while popular, would be obviated via an increased use of existing school buses (how do we encourage this more ecologically responsible behavior?)


(b) a traffic-staggering light at the intersection of Damascus Church and Smith Level (replacing the hazard blinker there now) would do nearly as much for the high school traffic situation as anything else and decrease the likelihood of accidents at this dangerous blind corner, yet, it's not been mentioned as an option.

Steve Jackson


Since Smith Level is already two lanes, Carrboro in essence wants sidewalks and bike lanes added (you said bike paths but my guess is you mean bike lanes). I noted in another thread that bike lanes are against the NCDOT's own policy on such a steep hill because they are dangerous. See:
for detailed discussion. Bike paths are also out of the question because of the steep grade.

Thus Carrboro should be lobbying for sidewalks only. So why doesn't Carrboro build the sidewalks and be done with it?



The last discussion I heard among the BOA (before the November election) was to do just that. I was under the impression after that discussion that they were going to use Moving Ahead funds to add a turn lane all the way to Rock Haven and then use their sidewalk bond money to add a sidewalk on the high school side of the road from the bypass to the high school. CHCCS is being required to add a turn lane in both directions as well.

Like you I would prefer to see adult bicyclists ride in traffic on Smith Level, especially coming from the south. But I also hope the sidewalk when it is built can be shared between pedestrians and bicyclists. The shared space on Franklin Street has always worked well IMHO. Sharing will save funds and require less impervious surface.


While bicycling on sidewalks can be done with reasonable safety provided the bicyclist goes slow and is prepared to yield at all intersection and driveway junctions, and there are few pedestrians, there is at least one other inherent downside: it sends the message to motorists that the sidewalk is where bicyclists should ride. Thus, in-street bicyclists are subject to increased harassment from motorists who think they are not where they belong. The effect is especially strong where sidewalk bike paths signs exist, like on Raleigh Rd. That sign was supposed to be removed several years ago.

Every sidewalk bicyclist projects miseducation. Kid bicyclists get in many collisions while riding on the sidewalk.

Less impervious surface is good. Why CH put a bike path on the steep hill next to the CH Library driveway is a real travesty. They spent extra money on a dangerous and unnecessary facility.


Thanks to all who have contributed links to information in this thread on the contribution of roundabouts to highway safety and efficiency. Anyone who has followed these links and studied this information will likely conclude that a roundabout on Smith Level at the new High School intersection should indeed be a no-brainer. The bigger question is, what kind of roundabout. They do come in various flavors and sizes, with different performance characteristics in the speed/safety equation.
I've found the the sections on safety and geometric design at this link mentioned in Mary R's original post particularly insightful in this regard.

It has been clear for years that senior planners at the NCDOT have seen Smith Level (and the streets of downtown Carrboro, lord have mercy) as the future high-speed, high-volume connector between burgeoning residential development in North Chatham and the expected employment growth at Carolina North, a vision to which Tom High's excellent post of 3/1/06 alludes. Such concepts do not disappear easily, and there is no denying the tendency for the DOT to plan for worst case scenarios in uncontrolled growth in the name of protecting the public purse. So it's a great time to educate ourselves as to the specific kind of roundabout that might be desirable here: small, single-lane, most safe, slowest vehicle speed, least blacktop, vs the large, multi-lane, highest vehicle speed, least safe, as-much-blacktop-as-we-can-pay-for version. Ultimately it's as much about the long-term vision for Smith Level Road (and South and North Greensboro Street and Estes Drive Extension) as it is about this single intersection.

Tom - thanks for the info. But I need more convincing on the safety and convenience of roundabouts for pedestrians. For instance, when I imagine a roundabout at N G'boro and Weaver, I shudder at how I'd get across the street. Can you provide more evidence that roundabouts are safer and more convenient for pedestrians (and bikers?)

David, from my experience with roundabout geometry, pedestrian crossing is easy, safer and shorter (because getting to any "corner" requires a stop in the middle).

I guess I should clarify that I mean in comparison to intersections with stoplights. Right now, when the light is red and the Man comes on, I know I can walk. When do I walk at a busy intersection with a roundabout? I'm not trying to be obtuse about this and I can certainly see how they are better on emissions and traffic flow. But I've yet to have anyone show me a real, live, in-use pedestrian friendly roundabout.

David, if you're up for a short field trip, go over to Woodcroft Parkway in Durham. There is a well-executed pedestrian-friendly one-lane roundabout there.

Or, maybe this video?

David, would some real research help? I did a search at Google Scholar ( for "traffic roundabouts and pedestrian safety" and got a bunch of hits, including this report from two profs at NC State:

This article is also interesting:

It says that pedestrian safety is increased because they are traffic calming devices, which decreases the total number of accidents and means that the accidents that happen cause fewer injuries.

The thing about traffic circles and pedestrians is this: pedestrians are only crossing one-way traffic at any given point; and even if cars don't stop completely, they have to slow down.

Here's a snippet from their literature review:

A study was conducted in London, England on the safety performance of 38 roundabouts. A before and after study was conducted at the sites, in which the average study period was 19 months and with all study sites operating for more than 5 months. The authors reported a
decrease in total accidents of 31% that was statistically significant at the 95% confidence level. Pedestrian accidents were also reported to have reduced by 46%. Fatal and serious injury accidents were also found to be reduce by 69% from 17% of all accidents in the before period to
only 10% in the after period.

Although I've never used any of our local roundabouts as a pedestrian, I'm very happy with their performance for motor vehicles. I use the roundabout at Erwin & NC751 on a daily basis.

In my travels in England I've used the roundabouts both as a motorist and pedestrian and I was quite comfortable with them in either mode. I think that as more people get familiar with them they will increase dramatically in popularity. At least I certainly hope so.

Interesting. Thnx Patrick and Joan. I'll try to find the woodcroft one as I work in Durham. Very cool little video too.

David, if you go to the Woodcroft Parkway roundabout, get out and try it as a pedestrian. Here's how.

Start on whichever corner of the intersection you choose. Walk via sidewalks to the nearest roundabout crossing point. When a break is available, walk to the splitter ped refuge island between the two traffic lanes.

Wait for a break, then cross again. You should have successfully crossed the street.

Because SOMEONE had to:


I'll be the roundabout
The words will make you out 'n' out
And change the day your way
Call it morning driving thru the sound and in and out the valley

The music dance and sing
They make the children really ring
I'll spend the day your way
Call it morning driving thru the sound and in and out the valley

In and around the lake
Mountains come out of the sky and they stand there
One mile over we'll be there and we'll see you
Ten true summers we'll be there and laughing too
Twenty four before my love you'll see I'll be there with you

I will remember you
Your silhouette will charge the view
Of distance atmosphere
Call it morning driving thru the sound and even in the valley

In and around the lake
Mountains come out of the sky and they stand there
One mile over we'll be there and we'll see you
Ten true summers we'll be there and laughing too
Twenty four before my love you'll see I'll be there with you

Along the drifting cloud the eagle searching down on the land
Catching the swirling wind the sailor sees the rim of the land
The eagles dancing wings create as weather spins out of hand
Go closer hold the land feel partly no more than grains of sand
We stand to lose all time a thousand answers by in our hand
Next to your deeper fears we stand
Surrounded by a millions years

I'll be the roundabout
The words will make you out 'n' out
I'll be the roundabout
The words will make you out 'n' out

I'll be the roundabout
The words will make you out 'n' out
And change the day your way
Call it morning driving thru the sound and in and out the valley

In and around the lake
Mountains come out of the sky and they stand there
One mile over we'll be there and we'll see you
Ten true summers we'll be there and laughing too
Twenty four before my love you'll see I'll be there with you


Actually Melanie, I prefer "English Roundabout", by XTC. Tee-hee.

As an FYI, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board sent a reply to the Town of Carrboro re: the Smith Level roundabout.

To quote from the letter: "Members were concerned about safety, and staying within budget and on schedule".

For those who are interested and supportive of a roundabout at the Smith Level/Rock Haven site, now would be the time to email/phone members of the BoE.

The schedule should be fixed, the budget situation is fluid, but the safety issue is both paramount, and, as I stated earlier, a no-brainer; and the BoE needs to hear that as much as possible. When the safety issue becomes clear, the attitude changes from "I'm concerned about how students will be able to cross Smith Level" to "How can we not do this?"

For what it is worth, I did much research on roundabouts when the prospect of having one in front of my house and CHHS came up about a year or two ago. I ended up being in favor of the roundabout in theory; however, in reality I would have lost my tree screen; also, the timing seemed wrong (some neighbors were fuming about annexation and we didn't need another 'controversy'). I was concerned too about one physically handicapped student who lives close by and wondered if the traditional crosswalk and ped signal would be safer for this student. (I still would like to read some testimonials from handicapped persons who feel safe crossing roundabouts.) What I liked about the roundabout is that it is safer for car riders, it slows down speeders, it keeps traffic moving (my intersection is only busy when school is in session), most pedestrians can cross safely, and roundabouts are visually attracive. If I were on the school board I would vote 'yes' for the SLR roundabout (assuming it is staked out and property owners are OK with the idea). I don't think the roundabout has to delay the school opening--I'm not sure how that line of reasoning works.

I drive Seawell School Road daily. Posted speed limit 35, 25 in the schools zone at school journey times, actual average traffic speed 45-55 except when a police vehicle is conspicuously present. As one of the slower drivers on this road, attracting much disapproval from the impatient, I have been passed, in the school zone, when I was actually travelling 5mph faster then the posted limit. Bike lanes appear and disappear capriciously, as do sidewalks. Though plenty of kids live in the walk zone for the three schools, almost none walk or bike, presumably because of the clear and apparent dangers. A couple of miles away, Weaver Dairy Road at East Chapel Hill High is pretty much a textbook example of how not to design a road with safety in mind. With these examples as Standard Operating Procedure, I just don't get it that folks are still dismissing proven, better, cost-effective, systematically safer alternatives out of hand. Around a thousand people die on US roads every week. We actually know how to to significantly reduce this appalling statistic by using proven methods of building safer roads and safer intersections. Why the debate?

So why did Ed Harrison wait nearly two years to weigh in on safety issues with the Ephesus Church roundabout?

Will's post confirms my earlier point: not just any old roundabout will achieve the desired result. And if the design is left to the NCDOT, they'll find a way to screw it up. They couldn't resist adding a right turn by-pass lane (anti-pedestrian, anti-cyclist) to the Erwin/751 roundabout although it's not a FHA recommended feature for the conditions here.



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