University roundabout tests post-construction transportation options

The University has temporarily converted the intersection to prepare for bus routes to change once construction is finished.
Vehicles circle a temporary roundabout installed by Parking and Transportation Services recently at the intersection of Pleasant Street and Pillsbury Drive. Officials are monitoring the effectiveness of the roundabout, which will be in place until August 21.
July 25, 2013

University of Minnesota officials are experimenting with a roundabout at one of the most-traveled intersections on campus.

Parking and Transportation Services installed a temporary roundabout at the intersection of Pillsbury Drive and Pleasant Street Southeast on July 24, and it will stay up until Aug. 21. PTS officials are monitoring the intersection to test the effectiveness of a permanent roundabout when buses return to Washington Avenue Southeast after Central Corridor light-rail construction concludes.

University Services Vice President Pam Wheelock urged travelers to “slow down and use caution” at the intersection in an email sent to students, faculty and staff before the installation.

The roundabout blocks part of the bike lane on Pleasant Street. Wheelock said bicyclists should ride with traffic if they are “comfortable,” but ride on the sidewalk if they aren’t.

PTS assistant director Sandy Cullen, one of the first officials to suggest the roundabout, said the intersection had an all-way stop before. After light-rail construction began, stoplights were installed at the intersection.

The roundabout is one of several options PTS is considering for when the buses reroute. Other options include stoplights or an all-way stop, but some University students favor the roundabout.

Nick Gerritsen, who’s taking summer classes at the University, said he generally prefers roundabouts to stoplights.

“It makes things go faster,” he said.

Business and marketing senior Abdi Farah agreed and said the roundabout is “more straightforward” than other methods of controlling the intersection.

Cameras were installed a week before the roundabout was installed to monitor the intersection and traffic delays, which will be compared with delays during the test.

PTS officials will also periodically monitor the intersection in person, Cullen said, and evaluate potential safety issues.

Cullen said she’s heard of roundabouts being used successfully on other college campuses, but none with traffic levels as high as the intersection being tested at the University.

 

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