RTC Roundabout Proposal Raises Safety Concerns

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RENO, NV - Tuesday night's public meeting on a proposed plan for roundabout near Hunter Lake Elementary School caused tensions among the community.

The Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County announced to build a roundabout at the intersection of Mayberry and Hunter Lake Drive. RTC's report states that a roundabout in this area will help eliminate delays and keep traffic flowing smoothly, making it safer to commute in a heavily traveled area of town.

However, many opponents expressed their concerns about how it will affect Hunter Lake Elementary School. Some have said it will cause more problems if the crossing signs are removed. Amanda McWilliams, the principal of the school said she worries about how the children will make it to the campus safely without encountering heavy traffic.

"About 65 percent of my kids walk to school everyday," McWilliams said. "So a lot of my parents, my PFA (Parent Faculty Association) have been very concerned about the safety of our students and the fact that they have to make a judgement call about when it's time to cross or not which is not always easy for a 3rd or 4th grader."

In RTC's report, a traffic light at the intersection is building up maintenance costs and needs to be replaced since it's outdated. An engineering analysis addressed that crosswalks would be further away from the roundabout with flashing lights to alert drivers. Jeff Hale, director of engineering at RTC said it's not uncommon for people to oppose roundabouts.

"Northern Nevada particularly, anytime an agency has tried to implement roundabouts it's met with a lot of resistance but once people get use to them and see how it operates, it's much more efficient than a regular intersection," Hale said.

Matt Setty, a resident who supports the plan said the community should give the roundabout idea a chance.

"What's being proposed has a lot of solutions to existing problems," he said.

Although the proposal states that crosswalks and lights will be included within the roundabout, opponents still believe these additions will not be enough for the children walking to school.

"I don't think it offers the children walking to school any protection whatsoever," said Terri Humes, a resident who attended the meeting. "Just because there's a crosswalk there it doesn't mean cars are going to stop."

RTC is considering the public's concerns and will try to implement them into the final proposal, which will be introduced to the Reno City Council.

If the project is approved, construction won't begin until Spring 2015.