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Roundabout proposed for Kendall intersection

Updated: August 16, 2013 6:28AM

YORKVILLE — As a traffic engineer, James Shaw can tell you the most dangerous accident at intersections are T-bones — where a car hits another on the side, where the driver or the passenger sits.

He can also tell you that the safest turns are right turns, and the most dangerous are left turns in front of traffic. That’s why he likes roundabouts.

“Roundabouts eliminate left turns,” Shaw told the Kendall County Board recently. “They also eliminate T-bones.”

Shaw spoke to the board at its Committee of the Whole meeting, in preparation of the full County Board meeting Tuesday. He is with Reynolds, Smith & Hills, the St. Charles-based engineering firm that recommended a roundabout for the intersection of Little Rock and Creek roads in Plano.

The full board will vote Tuesday on whether or not to build that option for that intersection.

Shaw said his firm was hired by the Kendall County Highway Department to study that intersection, both for the traffic conditions there now and in the future. He said his firm was not hired to study a roundabout.

Rather, they studied what traffic conditions are, and what they are likely to be in 20 years. The intersection is about two blocks from Plano High School, so about three blocks from town.

At the moment, three of its corners are cornfields, and there is a house on the fourth corner. Traffic on Creek Road stops for the much busier Little Rock Road. But in 20 years, it could well be built up with subdivisions, something that might already have happened if the recession had not hit. It will become a four-way stop.

Shaw said his firm looked at the intersection and decided it would a good place for a roundabout.

“We weren’t hired to study a roundabout,” he said.

Two County Board committees, the Highway and Planning, Building and Zoning, looked at the roundabout proposal and passed it along to the full board. Board member Lynn Cullick, a member of Planning, Building and Zoning Committee, said the roundabout addresses traffic needs today and in 20 years. But she admitted she still has some trepidation about the idea.

“My brief encounters with roundabouts have seemed like a glorified game of chicken,” she said.

In a roundabout, instead of traffic coming to a full, four-way stop, it slows as it moves into the roundabout, but only yields. Shaw said it also is designed to slow traffic and direct it in a safe manner.

Board member John Purcell, the Finance Committee chairman, pointed out that the cost of the roundabout is estimated at $650,000, about $100,000 cheaper than the $750,000 it would cost to redo a traditional intersection. Shaw said that is because it takes less land to do a roundabout, and also does not require traffic signals.

But Purcell also pointed out that the board does not have to do anything at this time.

“The intersection functions reasonably well at this time, but due to projections, it will start to fail before too long,” Shaw said.

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