PRINEVILLE, OR -- Oregon's Department of Transportation and the city of Prineville are working together on several infrastructure projects in 2018, including the city's first roundabout. ODOT's Peter Murphy says construction should begin within the next week on the roundabout at Tom McCall Road and Highway 126.
While some residents remain skeptical of the project and question why it's needed on the busy highway, Murphy says ODOT has worked on the project for a while. "We've thoroughly vetted, we've gone through all the rigor of testing, and we feel that, for a number of reasons, roundabouts do the right thing." He tells KBND News studies show wait times are half as long at a roundabout, compared to a traffic signal, and there is an 87% reduction in fatal accidents. "Our data says that, from a safety standpoint, and from timing people, how long they're delayed to get into it, we still believe and have proven that it's safer and more effective to have a roundabout." He adds, "In some cases, the roundabout is the same as some other options, in some cases, it's better than other options, and the expense is roughly the same, so why not do the thing that suggests safety is the best way to go? And that's the plan."
Murphy says designers took into account the kind of traffic that use the road, especially large trucks. During the planning phase, ODOT set up a life-like study to see how trucks navigate a roundabout. "It was set up to mimic what would happen at Tom McCall. and we invited the big trucks, the little trucks, everybody, to come out and be a part of it, and it worked out well. Sure, with the really huge loads, they go up and over the apron, that's the way it's designed, so it all worked according to plan."