ROY — The calming circle at 5700 South and 3750 West in Roy, meant to slow traffic in the residential neighborhood, has drawn plenty of criticism.
Installed just late last year, its future is already in doubt.
“You guys are looking way outside the box and if you could just keep it a little bit more simple I think we’d be a little bit more happy,” resident Shawn Bailey told the Roy City Council at an April 2 meeting.
- What do you think of the calming circle? Scroll to the bottom of the story to take part in the poll.
But to remove the traffic-control device — a raised island in the middle of the intersection — and do nothing, says Mayor Bob Dandoy, would be a mistake. A transportation study of Roy’s streets released last December shows something is needed at that street crossing and seven others around Roy to reduce speeding and improve safety.
“We have got to get this thing under control,” Dandoy said in an interview.
He understands the raw feelings generated by the calming circle, but to just take it out and do nothing else “is not the right answer.”
Indeed, despite the grumbling it’s caused, Dandoy said a study carried out by experts affiliated with the transportation report shows that the calming circle has done its job, slowing motorists down. Such devices are common in Salt Lake City, Seattle and elsewhere, even if they get boos from many in Roy.
The 38-page transportation study was a focus at the April 2 meeting, but most of the comments from the public focused on the traffic circle, more specifically, displeasure with the device. Among the concerns — school buses can’t negotiate it, it hinders the ability of pedestrians to see oncoming vehicles, it doesn’t seem to slow vehicles.
As a result, city leaders have scheduled a work session on the issue for May 1 at the Roy Municipal Center, 5051 S. 1900 West, tentatively set for 6 p.m. The aim is to debate the future of the traffic circle and possible alternatives if it’s to be removed.
There are plenty of alternatives, Dandoy said, and he thinks lack of public debate on the issue before the calming circle went in is partially to blame for the controversy. “I think that’s where we can negotiate, where we can work,” he said.
Installing a radar device that registers and displays passing motorists’ speed, affixed to a pole aside the roadway, could be a viable alternative, Dandoy thinks. While the calming circle aims to force motorists to reduce their speed by obstructing the crossing, the radar device aims to make motorists aware of their speeding, thus prodding them to voluntarily lift their foot off the accelerator.
Speed bumps and flashing signals are also among the many alternatives.
‘ANGRY DOT’ HAS YIELDED RESULTS
Eight “calming locations” in all have been identified in the traffic study, spots where motorists tend to speed that could benefit from some sort of attention to get drivers to slow down, whether calming circles or other measures. The 5700 South-3750 West intersection was one of them, along with two crossings just to the west along 5700 South.
5700 South is a quiet residential street that, heading west, dead-ends at Emma Russell Park. The speed limit is 25 mph, but according to the transportation study, the 85th-percentile speed of vehicles traveling the street before installation of the calming circle was 31 mph. That is, 85% monitored in the study were traveling 31 mph or slower while 15% were going even faster.
A follow-up report since the calming circle went in, Dandoy said at the April 2 meeting, shows the 85th-percentile speed had dropped to 27 mph.
Whatever the case, Roy City Councilman Bryon Saxton calls the the calming circle an “angry dot” given the strong sentiments it’s spurred. He favors an alternative.
“The public has complained about not having any public input on the placement of the device, only further escalating their outrage,” he said. “I believe that is why another viable solution needs to be found.”