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St. Cloud, Minnesota

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St Cloud Roundabout Experiments Continue

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The St Cloud area has now been working with five roundabouts for the last three months. The key findings are that traffic has been calmer in the areas and there have been no significant crashes. This is great news because there is sometimes an initial increase in collisions when a roundabout is introduced.

I was surprised by one a couple of weeks ago on a route that I have used for years. I ended up about 45% away from my intended direction because of the claim. At the same time, not initially noticing I was in a roundabout. Since I have written about these road changes a number of times, when I have encountered them in roads I don’t usually drive, my reaction is usually to really check them out. Makes you wonder if there is a difference when it’s a road that you usually drive without much thought.

The St Cloud Times covered the reaction in a story this week and included a couple of interesting quotes:

Barb Mulawka is finding it impossible to give people directions to the home she’s lived in for 23 years.

Take Stearns County Road 120 to the new roundabouts, she tells them, and try to veer off into the Tilden Woods neighborhood.

“Everybody would call me up and say, ‘This is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen,’ ” Mulawka says with a laugh.

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“We frequently see people go the wrong way on a one-way and that’s kind of scary,” John Ness, another Tilden Woods resident said. “We’re just waiting for the first major crash, because it seems likely.”

At the roundabout closest to Minnesota Highway 15, some drivers were cutting across the median to save time rather than navigating around the circle. That was curtailed when Stearns County installed barricades

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"You eliminate the right-angle collisions and the head-on collisions that happen at regular intersections,” Stephen Gaetz, St. Cloud’s public services director said.

So far, it looks like the project has the city thinking about adding more. In the long run with more education and people getting used to their usual driving, including the roundabouts, things will continue to get safer.