Fredericton — With construction finally set to begin in June on the new Route 8 roundabout linking Smythe Street and Bishop Drive, The Manatee decided to take the current temperature of Frederictonians on the controversial construction.
The cost-effective roundabout was a hands-down favourite of bureaucrats, coming in at an estimated $250,000 as opposed to an overpass, which received a nay at $3-4 million.
Route 8 became a less attractive option for commuters since being demoted from its Trans-Canada designation. Being the ugly stepsister of the two, it made sense for the municipality to “gussie up the ol’ gal” (a Woodside-ism) and relieve rush-hour congestion created by local traffic.
Despite all the positive media and handy YouTube how-to’s, the project seems to be drawing heavy skepticism from local merge-challenged motorists.
“Geez, I thought gettin’ on and off the Westmorland Street Bridge was a nightmare,” said Vernon Kimble. “This mess they’re puttin’ in between Smythe and Bishop is gonna be like that circle they got around that Arc in Paris.”
One would think many citizens here, already oblivious of the function of signal lights, would welcome such a traffic-flow apparatus; however, most agree that the new traffic circle will be the cause of countless accidents and vehicular homicides.
“They’re going to have to have an ambulance sitting there 24/7,” said Colleen Bannister. “People aren’t going to want to slow down. Not on a highway. Mark my words — you’re gonna see people fly right through it. So yeah, a lot of fatalities.”
To put such prevalent fears to rest, the City of Fredericton has created a page on their website full of helpful, un-credited statistics. Roundabouts, apparently, have been shown to reduce fatal collisions at intersections by 90 percent, injurious crashes by 75 percent and pedestrian-related crashes by 30 to 40 percent!
“Well, what do they know?” said Charles Daigle. “A traffic circle is like bumper cars. I’ve become a preferred customer over at Dana’s Collision since they put that one in further up on Bishop Drive.”
The contentious nature of the insidious circle seems to stem from a liberal interpretation of the term “right of way.” Motorists within the circle have the right of way, while those entering the circle must yield, and proceed only when there is a gap in traffic. It seems a pervading sense of entitlement overtakes the majority of the city’s drivers once seated behind the wheel. A brief, unofficial spot poll conducted on top of the King’s Place parking structure elicited this overwhelmingly popular response:
“I have the right, so get out of my way!”
Continuous counter-clockwise rotation within a traffic circle would seem to effectively alleviate left-turn delays and lengthy queues at traffic lights. This concept also leaves many in town scratching their agitated heads; during the same impromptu King’s Place questionnaire, The Manatee discovered that 75 percent of Fredericton motorists took an unreasonably long time to draw a counter-clockwise circle in the air with their index finger.
Amidst all the negativity, we found more. It seems seniors have their own bizarre reason for despising the circle.
“I don’t see the necessity,” said 69-year-old retiree Valerie Simmons. “What’s the big rush? When sitting in traffic I simply enjoy the robust scenery. And the smell! If you ask me, smelling the roses is for old fuddy-duddies. I take the time to smell the wonderful bouquet of progress: gas fumes, fast food and asphalt. And there’s no better place to do this than stuck at a red light at Smythe and Prospect in the heat of summer.”