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Kendall looks at developing county’s first roundabout

Updated: December 30, 2012 3:41PM

YORKVILLE — For the Kendall County Highway Department, moving ahead means traveling in circles.

Well, not quite circles, but roundabouts — a type of intersection that slows but does not stop traffic, and replaces the standard traffic lights that proliferate as roadways grow.

“It’s not right for every location,” said Fran Klaas, Kendall Highway director. “But in places where you want to slow traffic, and keep it moving, they’re a good alternative.”

One of those places could be Little Rock and Creek roads, near Plano High School, an intersection that does not make it on the Illinois Department of Transportation’s list of high accident intersections, but has had plenty of traffic accidents, including fatalities, and even pedestrian accidents.

Kendall County has been looking at upgrading the intersection, and as engineers kept studying alternatives, the idea of a roundabout kept popping up, Klaas said.

So Klaas took the idea to the County Board Highway Committee, as well as the nearby community, to see what everybody thought.

What they found out is that a roundabout costs less, takes up less space for a paved intersection, and works better for traffic flow.

The mayor, city engineer and police chief of Plano have endorsed the idea, as well as County Board members on the Highway Committee. Roundabouts also are much lower maintenance than traffic signals which can lose power or synchronization.

“I mean, there’s a computer inside those boxes, so you know what can happen there,” Klaas said.

Roundabouts are popular in Europe and various spots in the United States, but Kendall County has no roundabouts, and Klaas said he knows of no roundabouts in any municipalities. But he said as the county grows, roundabouts might be an idea whose time has come.

“As we go along over the next couple of decades, I think more and more municipalities will look at them,” he said.

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