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Proposed 'hybrid' roundabout on Woodbury Drive questioned

Plans to reconstruct Woodbury Drive in south Woodbury drew criticism at an open house last Thursday.

Also known as County Road 19, the highway will have a roundabout intersecting with Bailey Road as part of a construction project Washington County is undertaking in 2013.

The city of Woodbury has partnered with the county on the plans that were presented at the Eagle Valley Golf Course last week.

Called a "hybrid" roundabout, the multi-lane structure allows for smooth traffic flow, according to county engineers.

It will have two lanes going east and west on Bailey Road and four going north and south on Woodbury Drive.

Plans also include a pedestrian crosswalk about one car length away from the roundabout.

That's what worries Woodbury resident Greg Miller, who lives about a quarter mile away from the roundabout.

He's not convinced that studies done by county engineers are accurately comparing existing roundabouts in other parts of the world to this proposed one.

The father of three children, all under the age of 5, wonders if cars will yield for pedestrian traffic soon enough.

When cars enter the roundabout, they're going a variety of speeds, he said.

"It doesn't matter if you hit a kid going 20 or 50, they're going to be hurt," Miller added.

Washington County Engineer Wayne Sandberg said there are always going to be some people who aren't in favor of the roundabout and others who like it.

He argues that it will provide better traffic flow, less delay and fewer major accidents.

"Any crossing of a highway is a risk," Sandberg said. "We're trying to minimize that risk."

He explained that drivers will be able to see pedestrians before going into the roundabout or exiting it.

Vehicles would also be able to go up to the roundabout and turn right without having to worry about looking to their left for cars and to their right for pedestrians.

"In a roundabout, you don't have the right turn on red issue," Sandberg said. "It's different and that's causing a lot of concerns."

Studies the county researched were done in Europe, where there are more roundabouts.

The county has also built three roundabouts in Lakeland, one in Stonemill Farms and one in Cottage Grove. All of those have pedestrian crosswalks with variable speed limits.

"Every single roundabout we built, they operate safely," Sandberg said.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.