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Join the Conversation on Edmonds’ Controversial Five Corners Roundabout

Poll is evenly divided between supporters and non-supporters.

We now know what the City of Edmonds’ at Five Corners will look like.

And when Public Works Director Phil Williams unveiled an artist’s depiction at a City Council meeting this week, he acknowledged he’s heard resistance for the project from many residents.

But Williams, in making his case for the roundabout, said research from other cities with roundabouts show that initial opposition to the traffic circles eventually turns to support after they are in place.

Williams gave a number of reasons why the city should adopt the roundabout, whose initial design and engineering cost comes from a $463,000 air-quality grant from the federal Department of Transportation’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program, as well as $73,000 of the city’s money.

  • It is necessary because a 2008 transportation plan, based on traffic delay time, congestion and other factors, gave Five Corners an “F” rating (“A” is best).
  • It will speed up traffic. Williams said that, at peak traffic hours, the average delay is almost two minutes. This figure can be pared down to 10 seconds with a roundabout.
  • It will approve the look of the intersection, a major gateway to Edmonds, with a possible design to tie into the fountain at Fifth and Main (which is not a true roundabout since it has stop signs).
  • It will encourage new business and future development.
  • It will decrease pollution and save 93,000 gallons of fuel per year.
  • It will make it easier, and safer, for pedestrians to cross the intersection.

Williams pointed out that Washington has added 205 roundabouts since 1997, and more than 3,000 have been installed nationwide during the same period. In the Puget Sound cities of Woodinville, Gig Harbor and Sammamish, roundabouts have proven to be popular among a majority of residents, he said. .

Edmonds secured a federal transportation grant in 2010 to fund the design and right-of-way phases, the latter of which will likely include widening the intersection. The city will be pursuing additional transportation grants next year to fund the construction phase of the project, which is expected to be about $2 million.

The public is invited to comment on the roundabout during the City Council meeting on Dec. 20.

Brian Soergel December 10, 2011 at 11:42 PM
Environmental concerns are, in part, the idling time for vehicles, which increases pollution. The federal grant is an air-quality one. It is hoped that pedestrians will be safer due to shorter amounts of time they are in the crosswalk, due to the islands. And although Phil Williams explained that the roundabout was not being put in primarily because of a large amount of collisions, it is hoped that the roundabout will decrease the number of accidents that do occur.
Bette Bell December 11, 2011 at 01:20 AM
This is a complete waste of money, and as one wise commenter mentioned will cost the city much more then they expect. We do not need it, we do not have the money, and the environmental concerns seem to be vague and insignificant. If we do not want it, we should not have to "learn" to like it, and we should not have to pay for it. It sounds like some other government programs, I can think of, that haven't worked out that way. The citizens of this town should not have to deal with a group or individual that "thinks" they know what is good for us. Put it on the ballot, if the majority vote for it, so be it, but if not, we should not have it forced upon us. Bette Bell
Brian Soergel December 11, 2011 at 01:33 AM
Bette, you will have everyone's attention if you speak on Dec. 20 as part of a public hearing on the roundabout during the City Council meeting. I have to tell you, though, that it looks pretty good for this roundabout getting approved. A few councilmembers have objected in the past, but the majority-so far, at least-seem to approve. It's part of the city's 2012-2017 comprehensive plan and capital improvement project. By the way, the City is now looking for comments on its comprehensive plan-you can make your voice heard at edmondswa.gov.
Bette Bell December 11, 2011 at 07:03 PM
The planned layout for Five Corners is lovely. BUT, we cannot afford it! Neither can the state or federal government, afford their part of the expenses. What don't you and others understand about "There is not enough money". Please enlighten me, if any project the Edmonds City Council has approved, in the past 25 years has come in at the planned budget. How about under budget or over budget? No vague statements, please, just verifiable facts. Having the public hearing 5 days before Christmas is ridiculous, or well-planned, depending on your point of view. Who has the time to attend a lengthy meeting, with three minutes to speak, 5 days before Christmas. That is similar to making major policy announcements late on Friday afternoon, hoping no one will notice, with the weekend at hand. Edmonds cannot afford this project, let's try again in 5 or 10 years!
Jack Keen December 11, 2011 at 11:05 PM
Are all Edmonds citizens financially responsible for this project? I have lived in the Perrinville and Meadowdale areas for nearly 50 yrs. and have never had reason to be in the 5 corners area. I certainly don't want to help pay for this projected roundabout.
ScottRAB December 11, 2011 at 11:48 PM
Modern roundabouts are the safest form of intersection in the world. Visit www.iihs.org for safety facts. The smaller size of the modern roundabout is what makes them safer and keeps speeds in the 20 mph range. This makes it much easier to avoid a crash or stop for pedestrians. It also means that if a crash happens the likelihood of injury is very low. Safety is the #1 reason there are over 2,400 modern roundabouts in the US today and many more on the way. The first cost of any two choices is a poor way to compare. Life-cycle cost is the best (present value of future costs, a.k.a. net present value). When comparing modern roundabouts to signals for a 20-year life cycle (the standard period), modern roundabouts usually cost us much less. Costs to compare include: first cost (design/land/construction), operation and maintenance (electricity, re-striping, etc.), crash reduction, daily delay (what’s your time worth?), daily fuel consumption, pollution (generated), area insurance rates (this costs more where it is less safe to drive). Each of these things, and others, can be estimated for any two choices and everyone near or using the project area will pay some portion of all of these costs.
Brian Soergel December 12, 2011 at 12:24 AM
Good stuff on the roundabout, ScottRAB. Thanks for the expertise.
Bette Bell December 12, 2011 at 08:02 PM
Did you miss the fact that there have been very few accidents at Five Corners, in the 30 years the commenters have been living around here? Check the police records and see if this is accurate. Let everyone know the results. Have there been any deadly accidents? Not in the 25 years I have lived in the area, or else they are not reported in the Beacon, which seems unlikely. Cost is NOT a poor way to determine if a project should be done or not. It is done every day, by all of us. I ask myself this question often, and if the answer is "no", I don't buy it. We don't need a traffic light there either, most folks are polite, patient and reasonable at the Five Corners intersection. The speed limit is only 25-30 miles an hour in the area and there are stop signs at every corner. This intersection is safe, by most anyone's standards. This is just a "lets spend more money project" that we don't have, because some bureaucrats, who most likely don't live in the area, think we need it. Honestly, this is a project that should never see the light of day. WE DO NOT HAVE THE MONEY...CAN THIS BE SAID ANY MORE CLEARLY? Will you and Scot step up to pay the overrun? I don't think so, and I don't want to have to pay for it either. Stop, this unnecessary, expensive, undefensible project today. All the platitudes you can muster will not change this truth. Bette Bell
Brian Soergel December 12, 2011 at 08:23 PM
Bette: The public works director admits that the roundabout isn't going in because of a preponderance of accidents. The majority of the money comes from an air-quality grant. Plus the engineering dept. will tell you that the intersection fails in most respects and will only get worse. The question of city/public funds would be a good one to ask at the Dec. 20 public hearing.
Bette Bell December 13, 2011 at 03:13 AM
Yes, a good question, but who can go to that meeting five days before Christmas? In our family, Christmas is observed with family and friends. It takes time and preparation to put these family celebrations together. Many of us may not be able to make that meeting. As I said earlier, is this a meeting well planned, or a plan not meant to well-serve the community? I can hear someone saying, "We had a public meeting, and very few showed up, no one was in opposition". This might be the same group that calls the Christmas tree in Edmonds a holiday tree. Is it fair to assume, that if you go up the chain of command, with the air pollution excuse, you will get to the EPA? Do you believe the EPA, a bureaucratic nightmare, from many people's point of view, should be trusted? There is no reason to build the round-about, it is too expensive, does not cause any angst among the neighbors, in regard to air pollution that I am aware of, and is being pushed upon us by bureaucrats who do not live in the neighborhood. Let the folks in Edmonds manage their affairs on a local basis. This does not appear to be a local solution, as no problem currently t exists. Let's wait five or ten years, see if a round-about is needed, and if we can afford to pay for the cost overruns, that will surely occur. We do not need to do this in this economy. It makes no sense! Bette Bell
DianeT December 13, 2011 at 03:39 AM
Another death is being reported at the very dangerous intersection of 196th and 88th Ave W yet this relatively safe intersection somehow takes priority. It is and has been well known that the 196th &88th is in need of something but this Council seems to like pretty drawings rather than to concentrate on the basics first.
Brian Soergel December 13, 2011 at 04:03 AM
Diane: What is the main hazard at that intersection?
Brian Soergel December 13, 2011 at 04:05 AM
Bette: You have some great comments! I would consider writing or e-mailing Phil Williams at the City of Edmonds. I agree right before Christmas puts a lot of people off.
Larry Maland December 13, 2011 at 10:49 PM
I would like to know the accident statistics for Five Corners. It is not easy to find online. I hope the city officials have this information and will share it. Regarding air pollution, the bus lane on Highway 99 should be returned to all traffic. The flow of traffic would increase greatly and delays all over town would improve. I know this applies mostly to Lynnwood, but the bus lane slows us all down.
Brian Soergel December 14, 2011 at 12:37 AM
Larry: I would contact Phil Williams with the City of Edmonds. He might have those figures. By the way, I agree with you on Highway 99.
Anonymous December 14, 2011 at 07:50 AM
Personally, I like the idea of a roundabout there. I definitely think that it would improve traffic flow. I drive through that intersection everyday, and most people do not know when to go because they are either: 1) distracted or 2) fearful to cross. I cannot stand that intersection. I think it would improve the look as well, and I think it's smart for the city to plan for future development while improving the environment.
Bette Bell December 14, 2011 at 05:34 PM
No one seems to hear this salient point...WE CANNOT AFFORD IT! It would be lovely, it might improve traffic flow, but we can't afford it. I have always been under the impression what when a person approaches an intersection with stop signs, the street to your right has the right away, and this continues completely around the intersection, until it returns to your position, and then you have the right away. Is this incorrect? If so, what is the protocol? With this concept in mind, I never have an issue at Five Corners. Is there anyone else out there that thinks NOT overspending is unreasonable? This is an amazing conversation in this critical economic time in Edmonds and our country. I have to also admit, it is very discouraging. Bette Bell
Fred O. Bell December 15, 2011 at 09:37 PM
I submit the following quote pertaining to the availability of funds; ($463,000 air-quality grant from the federal Department of Transportation’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program) and ask you where is THIS dollar amount is coming from. Could it be OUR TAX DOLLARS? Just because the grant is offered, must we accept it? Seems to be a case of the TAIL WAGGING THE DOG.
Brian Soergel December 16, 2011 at 08:54 PM
There is an update now posted on the roundabout. Phil Williams of the City of Edmonds answers some questions about the project's funds. http://edmonds.patch.com/articles/five-corners-roundabout-public-works-director-replies-to-funding-questions
Steve G December 20, 2011 at 04:52 AM
As is is, Five Corners intimidates me and I avoid it like the plague. Most days I would be confronted by several overly polite drivers and no one goes because they are all waiting for the other person. Some other days I would be confronted with several aggressive drivers that threaten to ram you if you dare think that it is not their turn yet. Trying to negotiate turn taking between three or four cars coming from five different directions arriving almost simultaneously and then further complicating it with a pedestrian here and there...Arrrrg. It makes me want to run home and hide in my closet. The roundabout design presented is engineering genuis. I have three simple decision points. I first approach the crosswalk. If there is a pedestrian I yield, if not, I coast through. Then I approach the circle itself. If there is a car in the circle approaching from my left, I yield, if not, I coast on in. Then, I begin to turn off and again prepare to negotiate a crosswalk. Again, if there is a pedestrian, I yield, if not, I coast on through. What could be simpler? What could be safer? No stress! I could abandon all fear of Five Corners! Bring it on!
Anthony January 22, 2012 at 07:18 PM
I'm so glad the city is investing in 5 corners! There are close to 40,000 citizens here so the cost is 2 bucks each. Five corners looks like crap and I'm a little surprised to hear people in Edmonds (a city devoted to art) complaining about spending money on aesthetics... These types of investments ultimately increase our property values as it makes the city a nicer place to live.
S Dixon March 10, 2012 at 12:55 AM
I'm with Bette Bell - WE CANNOT AFFORD IT! Edmonds Beacon front page story March 8 2012 " A need to prepare for shortfalls" spells it out. Plus buried in City Meeting Notes is a question of whether the Federal Funding has been fully secured - or even applied for for that matter. At that time it may have looked probable, but months later is it a reality? I'm a 40 year citizen of Edmonds and travel quite a bit - so I do have personal experience with cities and round-abouts.Where common and well planned, visible and marked, drivers know the rules and for the most part they are effiecient - I cringe at the thought of the combination of confused drivers and FIVE street corners, trying to figure out who goes where! Most of the time people can't figure who goes next with a 5-Way Stop and 5 Corners to watch. My experience in this area is that people just don't know how a round-about works. Plus logistically, it seems like it would have to be rather large to create a true round-about circle, impacting visibilty while negotiating the circle. I would also propose that if this proposal tanks to at least install Light-Up-Crosswalk Lights that are nowcurrently installed by the High school. Good for pedestrians and drivers alike. I'm personally tired of drivers honking at me while I wait for a pedestrian to cross - they do have the right away.
Brian Soergel March 10, 2012 at 01:01 AM
S Dixon: The roundabout is certainly controversial. It would be great to hear more from those who are for it, the environmental benefits, the aesthetics, etc.
Jean March 10, 2012 at 09:25 PM
I traveled to Europe and I liked their roundabouts .... they keep the traffic moving ... there are no red lights or stop signs. They have caution and directional signs, "Caution When Entering Roundabout" ... "Enter to Your Right" ... "Watch Traffic Coming from Your Left". The ones I've seen In our country have stop signs and blinking red lights ... should be no stop signs and blinking yellow light. The City maybe should think of directional signs to help people out. Roundabouts are for a continuous flow of traffic. Only problem here most people don't know how a roundabout works. People that travel through 5 Corners on a regular basis will be confused but they will get used to it. I believe 5 Corners has enough traffic to use a roundabout.
Brian Soergel March 11, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Jean: Thanks for your comments! I think it's great that we're getting both pros and cons represented in the comments. Edmonds is passionate about this.
Bette Bell March 15, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Brian...did you receive the last comment I sent? If so where is it? I can't seem to find it.
Brian Soergel March 16, 2012 at 04:47 AM
Bette: Hi Bette. Not sure what post it was. Why don't you post again? Thanks for being part of the conversation.
J. Roe March 16, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Brian, you ask for more people to comment who are if favour of the proposed roundabout. MAybe you have heard from ALL of them. I am completely against the idea. Traffic flows very well 90% of the day, and only slows down during the usual peak hour between 5-6pm. This is an invitation for for finiancial disaster. Cost over-runs, and windfall profits for the contractor. Have you seen the asphault job done recently on Dayton street by the ferry toll booths? Too use pollution as a reason for replacing the 5 stop signs, and public safety is a ruse. Can anyone list the latest accidents that have occurred there? Another city Proposal is a light at 9th and Caspers Street. If stopping at 5 corners causes pollution and must be fixed, then why would the city think a stoplight here would be a good idea? A little hypocritical? I am open minded and wiloling to look at good improvements for this great little city, but should we go down the path of dumping money into something that isn't a problem. Others have commented that Edmonds should pour sidewalks for public safety where they are long overdue. Sounds like a good use of liimited public funds. These items should be on the ballot for voters to approve, not the city council. Learn from Lynnwood who is in debt over the $28 million dollar public pool-recreaction center. And yes I do live here.
Courtney April 10, 2012 at 09:35 PM
I have lived at the corner of 196th and 88th for almost a year now and I have seen at the very least a dozen car accidents. One of them resulting in a death and several of them resulting in injuries. Although, I do like the idea of a roundabout, for better traffic flow, I think the money would be better spent addressing intersections that are actually hazardous. I believe the main hazard at the 196th & 88th intersection is line of sight. People who are making left or right hand turns onto 196th from 88th have a hard time seeing cars traveling east or west on 196th.
Barry Stone September 14, 2012 at 08:42 PM
Thank you, Marlene. While they are at it, maybe they can get a pedestrian crosswalk on 196th somewhere between 88th and 84th. I take my life in my hands everytime I take a walk and am going to cross 196th at 88th.

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