The Mast-Head: Cars on Carousels

Reviews are mixed

With apology to Daniel Webster, it is a small thing but there are those who hate it. And, as another saying goes, all politics are local. So, with that in mind, I believe it is time to address what is for me one of the most local of all matters: the Route 114 roundabout.

Roughly three months since its completion, reviews are mixed. I, for one, enjoy the baffling complexity of five streets that do not precisely come together at the same point. From above, think of a broken wagon wheel; on paper it’s like a child’s drawing of the sun with rays scattering every which way, with a duck’s head at the center or perhaps a human figure being tortured on the rack. Yeah, something like that. At least that’s what I came up with when I tried to sketch it from memory.

It must have made sense on some engineer’s design pad or it would not have been commissioned. In real-life conditions for motorists, the learning curve has been steep.

Toward the end of the summer, a call came in over the emergency scanner about a car accident on Toilsome Lane. I grabbed my camera and headed out to have a look. No one appeared injured, thank goodness, but I was disappointed that the incident was about a quarter-mile away. A village police officer sitting in his vehicle laughed and said, “That’s what we all hoped, too.”

It is probably too soon to say if the Buell Lane roundabout has made a difference in the number of crashes there. Certainly the old “five corners” intersection could be frustrating to manage at times, but, in my recollection, it was never a hot spot  for car vs. car action. If I had to guess, I would say that the Buell Lane, Main Street, and Dunemere-James Lane labyrinth was more death defying to navigate. From my Star office window I have an excellent view of all the daytime drama.

In a poll sample of one — me — I have had two near misses at the new roundabout, which is two more than I recall ever having when the intersection was its old, confusing self. Both times, my car was nearly T-boned at the same spot, however, when drivers headed north on Toilsome (from the Woods Lane side) rolled past the yield sign with their eyes fixed on mysteries ahead. Now, I don’t know from nothing, but it seems to me that a simple stop sign there would be worth the village’s looking into. A notion kicking around Village Hall lately, to install speed bumps there, would not get this daily user’s vote.

All said, I still consider the roundabout a pleasure. Whether it has been worth all the fuss is another question.