Anyone harbouring a secret desire that the Evans Road Roundabout might one day disappear from the landscape should probably forget about it.
“Are we ever going to take it out?” said Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz. “The answer is no and there are several good reasons for that.”
An open house on the Evans Roundabout held Tuesday at Evergreen Hall was well attended in Chilliwack, with more than 100 members of the public showing up to ask questions about the engineering, design and function of the roundabout.
Traffic-calming roundabouts are with us for good.
“Roundabouts are considered the way of the future for safety,” said Gaetz.
Unfortunately, most motorists would rather not stop for lights, in general, which is why the number one crash site in Chilliwack is at the busiest intersection of Vedder Road at Luckakuck Way.
“The other reason is that roundabouts are earth-friendly and green. The drivers don’t have to wait at a light, and there’s no idling,” she said.
Plus it’s cheaper in the end given the extensive underground wiring and other costs that go into putting up street lights.
“We saved about $750,000 putting in a roundabout at Evans rather than full signalization with stop lights, so that is yet another compelling argument.”
The city had to do something.
“We were starting to get calls from the public around the time the Walmart first opened,” Gaetz said.
Staff decided it would be better to answer questions all at once, with ICBC and RCMP invited to attend the open house as well.
“It’s our first roundabout with two lanes, and some are a little concerned about it,” she said. “That being said, I think the majority of drivers understand how to use it, and use it well.”
Then there are those who come flying into the roundabout at high speeds, causing dangerous driving situations by not yielding the right of way, or worse, freaking everyone out by trying to back up when they miss their exit.
“As a fellow councillor stated recently about the roundabout, ‘It’s not a merry-go-round,’ you can get off at an exit whenever you like.”
More motorists are actually starting to feel comfortable taking the plunge.
“It’s really well-used,” she said. “I think it’s really good for the city.”