Along with being home to North Dakota’s oldest PRCA rodeo, Killdeer will soon get to claim another distinction:
BY JENNIFER KOCHER
Dunn County Herald
Posted Oct. 5, 2012
Along with being home to North Dakota’s oldest PRCA rodeo, Killdeer will soon get to claim another distinction: home of the first roundabout on a North Dakota highway, not to mention one of the largest of its kind in the country. The roundabout, located at the intersection of Hwy 22 and Hwy 200, is well into construction with plans to be completed by late October.
According to North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) communication representative, Kyle Niess, a roundabout was selected by NDDOT engineers as being the best alternative for handling the high-traffic volume at the junction, which currently sees about 5,000 vehicles per day. Unlike a four-way stop or traffic light, this $3.4 million project will permit a steady flow of traffic by eliminating left-hand turns and stop-and-go waits. Instead, drivers yield to oncoming vehicles as they enter and exit with right-hand turns.
This design has the benefit of eliminating certain types of crashes, such as T-bone or perpendicular crashes. Furthermore, according to a 2007 study by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, roundabouts have been proven to significantly reduce traffic delays while also eliminating the number of accidents. The study looked at 55 different roundabouts and concluded there was a crash reduction of 33-percent with 76-percent fewer severe injuries.
On the negative side, when crashes do occur in roundabouts, the unregulated intersections make it hard to assign responsibility for crashes as its difficult to determine which driver had the right of way.
And, despite the positive claims of efficiency and safety, not all Dunn County drivers are excited about the prospect of a roundabout. According to one well-seasoned water truck hauler who wishes to be known only by his first name, Dan, roundabouts slow trucks down too much, which often leads to drivers making “jerky” movements that are potentially hazardous.
“It’s easy to trip a truck in one of those,” he said, “and traction can be a real problem in icy conditions.” Dan also worries about the maneuverability of oversized vehicles.
However, Niess says the engineers have designed the 200-foot roundabout with oversized trucks in mind, adding a 10-foot truck apron to give larger vehicles space for their rear axles. The apron, which will be separated from the 20-foot driving lane by a small, mountable gold-colored curb design, provides extra space so the back wheels of oversized vehicles can ride up on the apron and easily complete the turn. Furthermore, Niess said most “regular sized trucks” will be able to navigate through without using the apron.
Others still are skeptical, curious and also nervous about how it all works. For tips on entering and maneuvering vehicles in a roundabout, drivers are encouraged to view the directional video included on NDDOT’s website at: www.nddotdickinson.com.