Fireworks, live music help celebrate Carmel’s 100th roundabout
The City of Carmel went all out for its grand opening celebration of its 100th roundabout on Nov. 17. The historic event was marked by live music, fireworks, vendor booths and a ribbon cutting at Carmel Drive and Range Line Road.
“This is a great day in the history of Carmel as we celebrate the opening of this milestone roundabout while also recognizing the continued transformation of our city into a more sustainable and environmentally responsible community,” Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said.
Carmel began 2016 with 97 roundabouts, with roundabout number 98 opening at the intersection of Carey Road and Hawthorne Drive West was opened a few days prior to the 100th one. Number 99 was 116th Street and Gray Road, which opened just a hours before the Carmel Drive and Range Line celebration. The party drew a crowd of more than 100 people and garnered national media attention, solidifying Carmel’s standing as the city with the most roundabouts in America.
The 100th roundabout was one that drew considerable attention from the public since it was in a highly trafficked area. Some neighboring businesses complained about a decrease in customers during its construction.
The city’s first roundabout was constructed during Brainard’s first year in office in 1996 at the intersection of River Road and Main Street, which was called 131st Street at the time. Brainard said he became a fan of roundabouts while studying in England during law school. Later on, he said he saw it as the best option for managing Carmel’s growth.
“We had abandoned the old grid system, and we didn’t move traffic efficiently. We knew if we wanted to compete economically we had to be able to move traffic efficiently,” he said. “We didn’t want the typical suburb where people spend a huge portion of their lives in a car.”
During his remarks, Brainard made a specific note to thank the “skeptics” who doubted his vision for transforming nearly every one of the city’s major intersections into roundabouts. Approximately 30 more are still in the works, he said, including 116th Street and Range Line Road and 96th Street and Keystone Parkway.
“When roundabouts were first installed in the area, I got a lot of phone calls from people who did not like the change,” he said. “Ironically, some of the greatest opponents to roundabouts are now their greatest fans. Once drivers learn to navigate a roundabout, they can see the vast improvement in the traffic flow and safety of the roundabouts. Now, I get people calling my office begging us to install a roundabout at an intersection in their neighborhood.”
WHY BUILD ROUNDABOUTS?
Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard has given several reasons he prefers roundabouts to traditional intersections:
- SAFETY He says they’re safer, citing slower speeds and an 80 percent reduction in injury accidents because it reduces the risk of head-on collisions.
- ENERGY EFFICIENCY He says they save motorists on gas costs since motorists aren’t stopping and braking and idling at traffic lights. Brainard says there’s also not a need to power traffic lights.
- AESTHETICS He says green space or artwork in the center of a roundabout is more appealing than wires and lights.
- AVOIDING GRIDLOCK He says that roundabouts can move more cars than traditional lights, because drivers don’t generally have to stop. During off-peak hours, motorists aren’t stuck waiting at a traffic light when there are no other cars in sight.