Gateway Roundabout - Frequently Asked Questions

What is the need for this project?

The existing traffic signals are 10 years past their life cycle. The geometry of the intersection and lack of left turn lanes are a significant safety concern. Asphalt condition rating is very low and remnant Ministry of Transportation overhead directional signs are well past their expected life cycle.

What does the $2.1 million budget include?

  • $1,150,000 is for road rehabilitation of the approach roads which is required regardless of work at the actual intersection. This includes replacement of 1.9 lane kilometers of road and improvements to drainage.
  • $500,000 is for the actual construction of the roundabout.  This is similar to the cost that would be required to replace the traffic signals and add left turn lanes.
  • $250,000 is allocated for creating a unique gateway feature and landscaping
  • $200,000 is for traffic control, coordination, miscellaneous, and contingency

Why are the traffic signals being replaced with a roundabout?

  • Roundabouts are proven to be safer and more efficient than traffic signals
  • A roundabout will force vehicles to slow down as they transition from a rural to an urban environment.
  • Roundabouts have less conflict points than regular intersections resulting in less severe collisions due to elimination of right angle and head on collisions.
  • A roundabout will both improve capacity during peak periods and result in environmental benefits from improved efficiency during low volume periods.

How safe are roundabouts?

  • Right-angle and left-turning conflicts are eliminated which are some of the most common types of collisions.
  • Roundabout by design forces vehicles to drive at a reasonable pace and helps to eliminate high speed impact collisions caused by speeding and disobeying signals.
  • A slower approach speed at the roundabouts allows for greater judgment time and slower speeds within the circle.
  • This slower speed leads to less severe injuries during collisions.  The Region of Waterloo has observed a decrease of 66% in the region on signalized intersection retrofits to roundabouts.

Are other cities using roundabouts?

Yes, the Region of Waterloo is a leader in roundabout installation who has approximately 26 major roundabout intersections.  The City of London, Hamilton and the Ministry of Transportation have installed larger multilane roundabouts across southwestern Ontario.  Roundabouts are very common throughout western countries locally in both Canada and the US and abroad in Europe.

Is there a plan to educate the public on how to use a roundabout?

  • Although Roundabouts have been in St. Thomas for about a decade, the webpage how to use a roundabout will explain just how to use a roundabout.
  • During construction, signage on the site will direct people to the website to learn more.
  • Information ads will be played on the radio
  • Information will be published in the newspaper
  • Roundabouts are being installed across North America and it is important for all drivers to become comfortable navigating them.

Why is this intersection being reconstructed instead of other streets?

  • The City has a ten year capital plan available on our website and information on how projects are selected.
  • Projects are prioritized based on a number of factors, the main factors for this project are that the traffic signal is in need of immediate replacement and the roads are due for rehabilitation.  Since work is required at the intersection it also provides an opportunity to improve the safety and capacity of the intersection.

Is there a cost difference between roundabouts and traffic signals?

  • The cost of replacing the traffic signal and upgrading the intersection to include left turn lanes would be similar to the cost of constructing a roundabout
  • In the long term, roundabouts are more cost effective than traffic signals due to no traffic signal maintenance costs, reduced cost to society from less severe collisions, and reduced cost to society due to improved efficiency of the intersection.

How safe are roundabouts for pedestrians?

  • Centre refuge islands shorten the crossing distance and minimize the time the pedestrians are exposed to vehicular traffic.
  • Slower speeds increase the likelihood of drivers yielding to pedestrians and provide more time for road users to correct mistakes.
  • Compared to traffic signals, roundabouts show a drop in pedestrian collisions per one million entering from 1.27 to 0.73.
  • Studies have shown that roundabouts can reduce pedestrian collisions by 40%

Where is the best viewing location for the Gateway roundabout?

There will be a parking lot built in the south east quadrant of the roundabout for tourist information and photo opportunities.

Will there be tourism or information signs in the centre island?

No, tourism information will be in the parking lot and the city will have destination and information signs placed in advance of the intersection.

What is planned for the centre island of the Gateway roundabout?

Landscaping in the centre island has not been finalized; however, it is the City's intention to place a monument of interest there.  Landscaping in the centre island is a positive aspect because it gives drivers a clear indication that there is an obstruction in the roadway and that they cannot drive straight ahead.  As a driver entering a roundabout, our focus is to look to the left, not across the roundabout, to see what traffic is approaching.

Are all of the roads for this project owned by the City of St. Thomas to use a roundabout?

Yes, at this point in time roads leading to the Gateway roundabout are 100% City owned.  Historically some of the roads were owned by the Ministry of Transportation, however, the highway which formed old Highway 3 transferred to the City of St. Thomas in the 1990's.

What if an emergency vehicle comes through the roundabout?

  • Do not stop inside the roundabout.
  • If you are in the roundabout, exit as normal, then pull to the right and let the emergency vehicle pass you.
  • If you have not yet entered the roundabout, pull to the right and let the emergency vehicles pass you.

Will a big truck fit in a  roundabout?

Yes.  At a roundabout, drivers of large trucks should:

  • Straddle the entry lanes
  • Use both lanes within the roundabouts.
  • Don't try to leave space for another vehicle to pass you.

What about snow removal at roundabouts?

City crews have had experience plowing existing City roundabouts and are trained to handle any snow removal situation.  There are no issues with snow removal in our roundabouts.

 

Please check out our roundabout page on how to navigate a roundabout.