How to navigate a roundabout Snohomish’s roundabout on Avenue D is almost completely built
SNOHOMISH — Traffic is flowing through the city’s new roundabout at Avenue D and 15th Street, which opened three of four legs on July 8, but there are still concerns over traffic safety rules as well as more construction that will last through the end of this month and into the fall.
City officials conferred with the state Department of Transportation and decided to set regulations to answer the basic “how to drive a roundabout” question.
Though there are approximately 120 roundabouts throughout the state, it has been said not a lot of drivers know the proper rules for safely driving through them.
What if an emergency vehicle is coming?
The roundabout is right outside Fire District 4’s headquarters station.
Snohomish Fire District 4 Chief Ron Simmons has straightforward advice for when an emergency vehicle is coming into the roundabout: Do not stop. Keep going through and pull over to the right after safely exiting and leaving the roundabout.
“Our hope that people see us coming, get through the roundabout as quickly and safely as they can, so that we can get through the roundabout,” Simmons said. “We want (drivers) to react calmly to us moving through this circle (during emergencies).”
A majority of the fire department’s calls will have trucks go through the roundabout.
The roundabout can accommodate large vehicles such as fire trucks, according to city officials.
“The question came up is, yes, (the old five-way) intersection needed repair but is the roundabout the best way to go about it, because it’s right on our doorstep,” Simmons said. “But, we have just one lane to go around, and one lane in and out; the majority of the calls will go through the roundabout.”
A single-lane roundabout is designed to accommodate trucks and oversize vehicles.
“Many roundabouts, including the one under construction in Snohomish, are also designed with a truck apron, which is a raised section of pavement around the central island that acts as an extra lane for large vehicles,” city public works director Steve Schuller said.
There are two types of roundabouts: single lane and multilane roundabouts. The city of Snohomish is installing a single-lane roundabout at 15th and Avenue D.
Schuller said there are a few key things to remember about driving roundabouts, which are yielding to drivers in the roundabout and not stopping in the roundabout.
“Look to your left as you near the yield sign at the entrance of the roundabout,” Schuller said.
The DOT says to slow down while approaching the roundabout and watch for pedestrians in the crosswalk.
“Continue toward the roundabout and look to your left as you near the yield sign and dashed yield line at the entrance to the roundabout. Yield to traffic already in the roundabout. Once you see a gap in traffic, enter the circle and proceed to your exit. If there is no traffic in the roundabout, you may enter without yielding.”
The DOT also states to look for pedestrians and use your turn signal before you exit and make sure to stay in your lane as you navigate the roundabout.
There is also an instructional video on the DOT website, Schuller said.
Roundabout on schedule
The current schedule for the roundabout is still on time, according to Schuller, with a few more modifications. Though three of the four legs of the roundabout are open to drivers, the fourth will be completed by the end of July. The other elements of the roundabout, such as rain gardens to treat stormwater, minor landscaping that includes trees and signage on the island and pedestrian lighting will be installed and completed in the fall.
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