Thursday, September 23, 2010

Can Traffic Roundabouts Actually Work at Tea Party Ground Zero?

We moved to the Mat-Su Valley from Whittier in September 1983. At that time, they had just put in a light at the junction of the Palmer-Wasilla Highway and Trunk Road. There was no left turn lane on Trunk, in either direction. There still isn't. It was and is a dangerous, frustrating intersection. Every politician I've talked to about it over the ensuing 27 years has said that "it will get fixed."

Well, finally, they will all be proven right. The new Trunk Road's first phase, from the Parks Highway to Palmer-Wasilla Highway, is nearing completion. On the north end, there will be a three-way junction with turn lanes for now, with the new road ending at P-W Hwy. Next year, it will be extended to the Bogard Road - Colony High School axis. Then, in a final pohase, it will reach Palmer Fishhook Road, creating a very usable shortcurt for people from Anchorage to Hatcher Pass.

On the Parks Highway end, the first high-traffic roundabout in Mat-Su Valley history was completed early this week. As part of the planning for the road, people were asked about a roundabout. Many felt it was a dumb idea. Others complained that it smacked of "European thinking" or "socialism."

So far, it seems to be working rather well.

Here it is yesterday, looking east, toward Pioneer Peak:

And here's the large, uphill grade, created to the west of the UAF Experimental Farm:

Bonus: Later yesterday afternoon, here's the late afternoon sun on the ridges above the Matanuska River, north of Palmer:


Anonymous said...

Police and emergency people love roundabouts because all the traffic moves in the same direction, there is no chance of the "T-bone" high speed accidents that occur at intersections when someone runs the red light. We have a lot of them in Ohio and my comment would be they appear to work better when they have a larger diameter like the one you show above. Socialistic indeed - ideally when you approach and go through a roundabout, all approaches are equal and you never completely stop.

Anonymous said...

Trunk Road looks so wide and nice and safe. It did loose a lot of its country charm though.

Anonymous said...

How can a road idea be socialist? Down too with German chocolate cake? French fries? Hungarian goulash? Nom nom, we can make this work for us!

Anonymous said...

Well we took a jaunt thru the TP Ground Zero Roundabout 'bout a hour ago. Didn't see any autos clad with Joe Miller propraganda in the ditch. However there was a large SUV with a Palin/McCain bumper sticker, goin round and round the thing.

Anonymous said...

A light at P-W highway and Trunk in 1983? I remember trying to get across that intersection when it was a blinking light in the late 80s. Boy, that was fun!

HarpboyAK said...

Roundabouts are great, especially when they connect roads with widely different traffic loads.

Unlike lights, they don't require electricity or much ongoing maintenance (other than snowplowing), and they allow traffic to keep moving, smoothing out the flow instead of creating the bunched up groups of cars that traffic lights generate.

Socialism? If having to slow down to a reasonable speed to make it through an intersection safeway is socialism, the wingnuts don't understand the word.

Anonymous said...

I love the roundabouts in Anchorage. It used to take me up to 45 minutes to drive east on Dowling from Potter to turn left on the frontage road on my way home because of traffic. Now you can just drive through.

The roundabouts are just common sense, and anyone that can't figure them out doesn't need to be driving.