Roundabouts: Success and regrets

MDOT plans to put in two roundabouts on M-40 south of I-196 in Holland to slow traffic and reduce the number of crashes. (March 17, 2014)

CASNOVIA, Mich. (WOOD) — It’s a tale of two roundabouts.

At the roundabout at M-46 and M-37 in Casnvoia, crashes have dropped dramatically — not a single injury accident in the four years since it was built.

But at Coopersville’s roundabout, more cars are banging into each other.

24 Hour News 8 examined accident data at both roundabouts after the Michigan Department of Transportation announced it was planning to build new traffic circles in Walker, and is considering a pair o f them on a deadly stretch of M-40 in Allegan County. M-37 and M-46 proposed roundabout 031914

Rebecca Austin, who lives next to the roundabout in Casnovia, cringed at the sound of crunching metal before it was built.

“People would just come flying through there and they’d crash,” she said. “There was an ethanol tanker that had tipped over and they had to evacuate the surrounding houses.”

In the four years before the roundabout, there were 30 crashes, including one fatality and 17 injuries, according to MDOT.

“We’ve had news crews up here,” Austin said.

In the four years since: A dozen crashes, nobody hurt.

“That’s typically what we see,” said MDOT spokesman John Richard. “There’s a 90-percent reduction in the severity of crashes and a reduction in the amount of total crashes, too. The stats and figures really speak for themselves.”

But then, there’s the roundabout at 68th Avenue and West Randall Street in Coopersville, where crashes have increased slightly — from about eight a year to nine a year — since it was built in 2007, according to the Ottawa County Road Commission.Coopersville proposed roundabout 031914

The number of injuries, however, dropped slightly.

“I’ve seen people go backwards through it,” said Kristen Smith, who owns a nearby hair salon.

Ottawa County Road Commission Engineer Fred Keena said the county regrets building a two-lane roundabout, saying it was meant to accommodate future growth to the north that hasn’t happened.

He said the two lanes cause confusion.

“Some of my older customers will avoid it,” Smith said. “They back through all the parking lots around it, they won’t even drive through it.”

Still, officials say, most of the crashes are minor side-swipes with few injuries, and that, they say, is most important.



Number of accidents at M-46 and M-37 in Casnovia:

Before roundabout:

  • 2006: 8
  • 2007: 3
  • 2008: 6
  • 2009: 13

After roundabout:

  • 2010: 0
  • 2011: 3
  • 2012: 2
  • 2013: 7

Number of accidents at 68th Ave. and West Randal St. in Coopersville:

Before roundabout:

  • 2003: 11
  • 2004: 4
  • 2005: 9
  • 2006: 9

After roundabout:

  • 2008: 12
  • 2009: 7
  • 2010: 11
  • 2011: 10
  • 2012: 7

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