Letter to the Editor: A Person’s Opinion Does Not a Fact Make

By JANIE O’ROURKE

Opinions – we all have them and we are very attached to them. But a person’s opinion does not a fact make.

An opinion worth having should be supported by facts. I recently read a couple of letters in the Monitor and Los Alamos Daily Post that were filled with very strong opinions regarding Trinity Drive and roundabouts.

How should we judge these opinions? First let’s look at the facts regarding roundabouts as published by reputable and mainstream engineering organizations.

As an example, the Federal Highway Administration sponsored a study to determine the effectiveness and safety of roundabouts.

The study was carried out by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) of the National Academy of Engineering.

The NCHRP-672 Report found that a well-designed roundabout provides better operational performance than a traffic signal in terms of:

  • better level-of-service (shorter delays and fewer stops);
  • better motor vehicle safety; and
  • lower pollution emissions.

In addition, a roundabout has the following pros:

  • the long-term maintenance costs of the roundabout are likely to be less than the expense for a signal, because there are no signal maintenance and signal operation costs;
  • the roundabout would provide an opportunity for community beautification;
  • the roundabout would calm traffic;
  • the roundabout would enable easy u-turns and effectively eliminate left turns; and
  • the roundabout would keep working during emergency or extended electrical outages.

So – on Trinity Drive, although either a roundabout or traffic signal would work – the Federal Highway Administration’s study suggests that a roundabout would be a better choice.

But the real choice being made goes beyond just a choice of signal or roundabout. It’s about what kind of road we want Trinity Drive to become.

Will it become a road that moves cars and people efficiently, supports residents and shops along its edge, enables the multi-modal transportation choices of the future … or will it be even more the road we have today, where cars must stop at red lights even when there is not a single other car in sight, or where cars speed up to make a changing traffic signal, endangering all in the intersection; where the width of the road is made extremely wide due to stacking lanes required at traffic lights; where the road feels too scary and unpleasant for walking so people choose to drive a short distance – even if it’s just to cross the street; where buildings push back from the street edge due to obnoxious noise and pollution.

The choice of road design plays a significant role in creating the kind of town in which we live. The choice is ours and the choice is now.

Email your support for a roundabout on Trinity Drive to NMDOT’s Eric Johnson at the following address: eric@marroninc.com

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