Mountable?! While cars go round and round, another path is over traffic circle

As someone who regularly drives west down Marshall Way to 24th Street, I find the new roundabout at that intersection downright dangerous.

The line behind the crosswalk where I’m supposed to stop on Marshall Way before proceeding into the intersection is so far back I can’t see cars approaching on 24th Street from the south, on my left. If I nose out to get a clear view down 24th Street, I’m in the traffic lane and at risk of being hit.

I’m no traffic engineer, but I am a driver, and from my driver’s point of view, the roundabout at 24th Street and Marshall Way is too big. It’s also ugly.

Why can’t Curtis Park have a roundabout like the one in midtown at Capitol Avenue and 25th Street? It’s not just a concrete mound, like ours. It has landscaping in the middle, filled with pretty flowers and shrubs. And it’s easier to get through that intersection. I don’t feel squeezed when I drive around the midtown roundabout, as I do when I drive around the one on 24th Street.

But, I didn’t just wonder, I called city traffic engineer David Edrosolan to find out more. Both roundabouts are about the same size, he explained, approximately 27½ feet in diameter. The difference is in the width of the streets. Capitol Avenue in midtown is 60 feet wide and 24th Street in Curtis Park is only 40 feet wide. Aha! So that explains the squeeze.

But there’s more. There’s no landscaping on the Curtis Park roundabout because it is meant to be “mountable,” Edrosolan told me.

Mountable?! I asked. The term simply means it’s designed so that emergency vehicles, big trucks and buses can drive over it. Really?! I guess that explains all the tire marks on the Curtis Park roundabout.

But I drive a regular passenger car, so, uh, can I drive over it too? I don’t know the answer to that question. I suspect most of my neighbors don’t know either. Most of us try to stay on the pavement, no small feat given the shrunken dimensions of our newly obstructed intersection, which is not a roundabout in reality but a kind of circular speed bump. Are you confused? So am I.

But that’s not the end of it. There’s one more difference between the roundabout of Curtis Park and the one in midtown. Capitol Avenue and 25th Street are perpendicular to each other. The western leg of Marshall Way crosses 24th Street at an angle, making our roundabout even more challenging.

City engineers say we should be patient and withhold judgment. More traffic-calming fixes are coming to 24th Street, including speed bumps and better signage. But nothing the city has planned will make 24th Street at Marshall Way wider than it is now or the roundabout/ circular speed bump obstructing traffic there any easier to navigate.

Sounds as though we’ll just keep going round this not so merry-go-round.

By Ginger Rutland

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