Traffic Circles: The Right Way and the Wrong Way

Educational video addresses traffic circle etiquette and safety.

The City of Port Orchard sees a wide road in South Kitsap’s future.
City officials will hold an open house April 25, to discuss the proposed widening of Tremont Street, which has raised some public concern about traffic flow, especially with regards to traffic circles that are part of the design.
Improvements on the main boulevard into Port Orchard and the South Kitsap area will create a gateway effect that will “welcome people into the community and project the right image of Port Orchard,” said Maher Abed, the city’s public works director.
In another public workshop Thursday, the city will present plans to create a storm water utility to comply with the state’s Department of Ecology guidelines. Public funding of storm water maintenance will allow the city to do a better job of keeping streets clear of silt build-up and preventing pollution run-off into Sinclair Inlet, Maher said.
Maher hopes to see a good turnout at both workshops so that community members can be made aware of the impact, costs and benefits of each project.


Construction will begin the summer of 2008 on the $7.5 million Tremont widening, which will be paid for primarily with state and federal transportation funds. The Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council has helped the city secure a grant for federal matching funds.
The project will turn a two-lane road into four lanes, plus a center turn lane, bike lane, sidewalks and, in two locations, roundabout traffic circles. Unlike the single-lane Bethel Avenue traffic circle, those at South Kitsap Boulevard and Pottery Avenue will have two lanes, a design that worries some. South Kitsap resident Bill Thaete is worried that drivers will become confused leading to delayed traffic flow or accidents.
“They never work the way they’re designed,” said Thaete, who has lived on the east coast where traffic circles are prevalent. Single lanes circles are not a problem, he said, but, in his experience, multi-lane circles cause confusion and don’t move traffic along as well as signal lights. Thaete is worried about emergency vehicles negotiating traffic circles. He also believes the proposed design will cause more gas consumption.
Abed is aware of objections to the multi-lane design. The City of Port Orchard is following The City of Lacey’s lead in providing public outreach and education about traffic circles, which, Abed says, have been shown to move traffic more effectively than signal lights. Lacey produced a public education video on navigating traffic circles, which Abed plans to put on Port Orchard’s Web site.
Thursday’s public workshop will center on improvements to the city’s storm water management plan. The city has hired Jerry Morrissette & Associates of Olympia to draw up a plans to address, among other issues, funding for ongoing operations. Abed said it’s too early to say how the required improvements will affect residents’ utility bills. He encouraged anyone with questions or comments to attend the meeting or contact him at mabed@ci.port-orchard.wa.us.

Road and Utility Improvements Discussed at Public Workshops
The City of Port Orchard will host a workshop on storm water improvements required by the state’s Department of Ecology at 7 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, 216 Prospect St., Port Orchard.
The city will host a second workshop on the proposed widening of Tremont Street at 7 p.m. April 25 at city hall. Construction on the project, which will include two two-lane traffic circles, will begin the summer of 2008. The city plans to host on its Web site a link to a video produced by the City of Lacey on navigating traffic circles. The link also can be found at the Speaking of South Kitsap blog.
For more information, or to submit comments, contact Maher Abed, public works director, at (360) 876-4991 or mabed@ci.port-orchard.wa.us.

2 thoughts on “Traffic Circles: The Right Way and the Wrong Way

  1. I have aired the objection to two lane roundabouts to the City Engineer. They are going to happen no matter how many people are opposed to them. The City claims that “education” will prevent accidents even though the history of two lane roundabouts shows otherwise.

  2. I saw my first roundabout in the other Washington and was fascinated by the ease of the plan.
    We live near a roundabout now and I can tell you it sure beats the traffic mess we had before.
    The roundabouts I’ve encountered cause an orderly flow of traffic…and no objections from me.
    Sharon O’Hara.

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