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Carmel approves plans to build 28 new roundabouts over the course of the next five years

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A graphic of the new roundabouts coming to Carmel in 2013The city of Carmel has approved a proposal to build 28 new roundabouts throughout the next five years, with three of them to be built this year. The replacement of stop lights for roundabouts will have a significant impact on CHS students who drive regularly.

Many students will have to leave their homes earlier in order to beat the traffic around roundabouts, but some might also opt to take different routes.

Junior Corinne Thinnes said, “In the summer I nanny for a family on the far west side of Carmel, and it takes me a good 40 minutes to get to their house with efficient stop lights throughout the drive. If they turn them into roundabouts, it will take me twice as long to get to where I need to be, so I will most likely take back roads to get there.”

However, according to Eric Seidensticker, a City Council member representing the Central District, Mayor Jim Brainard approved the agenda for construction in order to reduce traffic volume at certain intersections, as well as push a green initiative by not requiring motorized vehicles to stop so frequently.

“I suspect the locations decided upon relate to traffic volumes and queue-times related to stop signs and automatic signaling devices,” Seidensticker said.

Despite these efforts, Thinnes said many CHS students will still react negatively to the roundabouts.

“I believe students will become agitated due to the increase in roundabouts just because we have so many already. It’s become a contagious mood throughout Carmel,” she said.

Along with students, many businesses will also suffer the consequences of the new proposal. With traffic being directed around the roundabouts, customers will drive past businesses instead of stopping by them.

Seidensticker said via email, “There should be a balance between traffic movement and access to businesses. The simple fact is that when people have a stop light that is at grade level and adjacent to business, this translates into greater traffic flow to the adjacent businesses. Roundabouts often times hinder this traffic flow to the businesses, but benefit the traffic flow that passes around the businesses.”

Seidensticker and Thinnes said they agree, however, that the mayor’s plan will have both positive and negative impacts on citizens of Carmel.

Seidensticker said, “There are many areas that would benefit by roundabouts but, as well, many areas are negatively impacted by their installation. Unfortunately, the possibility of ‘unintended consequences’ are too often not evaluated.”

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