Roundabouts become popular across the area


Traveling cars exit the roundabout on Powdermill road on July 31, 2014.

Eric Poston

Drivers will encounter several new roundabouts when they navigate around the area in the coming years.

Roundabouts are becoming more popular than signaled intersections because traffic studies have shown that roundabouts are much safer. A signaled intersection has 32 conflict points compared to eight in a roundabout. A conflict point is where a crash could occur.

The Federal Highway Administration reports a 90 percent reduction in fatalities, a 76 percent reduction in injuries and a 35 percent reduction in all crashes occur when a roundabout is constructed.


Construction for the two roundabouts on Summit Street will start in the spring.

The intersection of Ted Boyd Drive and Summit Street will become a roundabout, along with the intersection of Campus Center Drive and Summit Street.

“There is kind of a public perception that people don’t like roundabouts because they don’t know what to do,” said Kent State executive director of facilities, planning and design Michael Bruder. “Statistically, that is a good thing because when people are unsure, they slow down and make eye contact with other drivers and eye contact with pedestrians, and people are just more cautious.”

Bruder said accidents that do occur in roundabouts are at a slower speed and they are normally side swipes compared to t-bone accidents at a standard intersection.

He said there will be some public outreach from the city of Kent and the university about how to navigate roundabouts.

“Statistically, roundabouts are actually safer for pedestrians than standard intersections,” Bruder said. “Part of it is because you are only crossing one direction of traffic at a time and there is a space to land in the middle.”

Bruder said one drawback is roundabouts are difficult for visually impaired pedestrians, but the one constructed at Campus Center Drive will have a high-intensity activated crosswalk beacon. This beacon allows for traffic to be stopped for one leg of the roundabout while a visually impaired pedestrian crosses.


The city of Green has two roundabouts and may construct six more in the next 10-12 years.

Green opened their first roundabout in 2009 at the intersection of Massillon Road and Steese Road. This year a second roundabout opened at the intersection of Greensburg Road and Lauby Road near the Akron- Canton Airport. 

The city has faced some criticism about the roundabout at Greensburg Road and Lauby Road as some people said it was a waste of money or not needed.

City of Green engineer Paul Pickett said people that feel it is a waste of money don’t drive the intersection at times during the day when it is busy.

Project manager for Green, David Schemansky, said one morning he waited more than five minutes to make a left turn from Lauby Road onto Greensburg Road.

Several traffic studies have been conducted and revealed 51 accidents in a three year period.

Schemansky said the roundabout will not only help reduce the number of accidents, but allow for a longer lifecycle of the intersection.

Pickett said unless someone owns a business near the intersection or was involved in an accident there, they would not know there is an accident problem at the intersection.

The city explored the idea of installing a signal, but decided to go with a roundabout instead.

“A signal would not have been as good of a solution,” Pickett said.

Drivers don’t like to slow down, but that is what makes it safer Schemansky said.

While the new roundabout lanes look smaller, they are not. The lane in the roundabout is 18 foot wide compared to 15 foot lanes in the Steese Road roundabout.

“There are very few places a roundabout will not work,” Schemansky said.

Schemansky and Pickett both agree accident plots play a large role in determining how to correct problems at an intersection. 

“How does the transportation industry not adopt something that works so well,” Pickett said. “Roundabouts are a good tool for most our problems. Like it or not, my hope is drivers will see it works.”

The city plans to consider roundabouts anytime an intersection needs improvements.

“They will be a consideration anytime we are faced with an intersection that needs a major improvement,” Pickett said.

Schemansky said roundabouts cost less to maintain in the long run and their level of service lasts longer.


Summit County deputy director of engineering, Joe Paradise, has a different view of roundabouts despite some of the statics and cities building them.

“We discourage them, we would rather look for more cost effective solutions,” Paradise said.

Paradise said small roundabouts can be tough for semi-trucks and trucks pulling any sort of trailer to navigate.

He said he could improve five separate intersections across the county for the price of one roundabout.

Other challenges with roundabouts are pedestrians, bikers and blind individuals Paradise said.

The county explored the option of installing roundabouts to help improve Canton Road in Springfield Township, but found they would be too close together and the area needed another solution to ease congestion and limit left turns. 

He said roundabouts are a speed control device and don’t get rid of all accidents, roundabouts just change the type of accident.

Paradise calls roundabouts a tool in the toolbox when it comes to deciding how to fix an intersection. He said sometimes the intersection is not the reasons for accidents, but nearby driveways are.

“I want to keep everything on the table until I can find the best cost solution for the problem,” Paradise said.


The Ohio Department of Transportation generally has a favorable opinion of roundabouts because they are much safer than a conventional intersection and they move traffic more efficiently.

“Roundabouts are typically considered whenever an intersection needs to be widened to accommodate additional traffic or when there is a crash problem to address,” said Justin Chesnic, public information officer for ODOT’s District four. “Part of the process in determining whether to upgrade a conventional intersection or construct a roundabout is to take into account the construction cost and impacts to surrounding properties that each alternative will have.”

Chesnic said while roundabouts are safer and move traffic more efficiently, they come at a high cost and have impacts to surrounding properties compared to normal intersections.

Currently ODOT doesn’t maintain any roundabouts in District 4, but two are planned on state Route 619 in Hartville near the Hartville MarketPlace.

Hartville Mayor Richard Currie calls the improvements necessary and said it will greatly ease traffic flow.

“For a variety of reasons, state Route 619 is the single most important east-and-west thoroughfare in the village,” Currie said. “Improvement should greatly enhance the experiences and opportunities of residents and visitors to the village, as a majority of our commercial activity is located on this route.”

Single lane roundabouts will be constructed at Kaufman Avenue and King Church Avenue with construction beginning in 2017.

Eric Poston is the construction reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]