Frisco leaning toward alternative traffic control




Posted on November 27, 2012 at 7:12 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 27 at 7:33 PM

FRISCO – Roundabouts are few and far between in North Texas. However, Frisco city leaders are looking at installing them along a fast-growing street. 

They say they're a good alternative to traffic lights. But many drivers want the city to tap the brakes on the project.

Frisco City Council members are leaning toward installing three roundabouts along Ohio Drive, at the intersections of Warren Parkway, Gaylord Parkway and Prestmont Place.

They're looking at a roundabout in Balch Springs as their model.

It’s located at the intersection of Belt Line and Pioneer roads. It's unique in North Texas, because it's two lanes. Without traffic signals, cars and trucks are allowed to move slowly, but continuously through the roundabout, eliminating congestion. 

"You have to yield to the traffic that's in the circle," said Brian Moen, Frisco’s Assistant Director of Engineering Services. "If you're in the circle already, you have the right of way."

Engineers say by keeping traffic moving one way in a counter clockwise direction, there is less room for driver error. But several Balch Springs drivers said they're not fans of the roundabout. 

"It's a hassle," said Nick Huffman, who works near the roundabout. "People don't slow down. People don't pay attention and one of the lanes just ends."

A National Highway Research study shows overall crashes are reduced by 35 percent at roundabouts, injury accidents by 75 percent and fatal accidents, by 90 percent. But Ann Lane doesn't buy it. 

"It's a little confusing," she said. 

She would rather have a traffic light.

 "I think they still go fast, especially the younger generation."

Frisco traffic engineers says they don't expect everyone to be on board with their roundabout plans. 

"We expect there to be some reluctance," said Moen. "I think that's been common throughout the United States in cities that have done this."

The next steps for Frisco's roundabout plan: design and public education so drivers are aware of how they work.