Across the province, Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal has been promoting the increased use of roundabouts at key roadway interchanges. All interchanges of the Highway 104 at Antigonish will therefore be using roundabouts instead of straight ramps and signaled intersections. This is a change from the original highway design where straight ramps were used.
Benefits of Roundabouts
The decision to move towards the use of roundabouts is based on evidence of several positive benefits in comparison to straight ramps, including:
- Traffic and pedestrian safety – studies in the U.S. have shown that roundabouts reduce collisions by 76%. A similar study in Great Britain showed an 86% reduction in collisions. The increased safety comes from slower traffic speeds when vehicles are approaching and within the roundabout, and a reduction in the number of areas where vehicles may collide with each other or pedestrians (conflict points).
- Improved traffic flow – roundabouts are designed to control traffic in a circular counter-clockwise direction. Because vehicles do not have to start and stop at controlled/lighted intersections, roundabouts improve traffic flow and reduce emissions.
- Reduced costs – roundabouts can be built more compactly and closer to overpass structures, and do not require a third left-hand turning lane on bridges as is seen in straight ramps. This means less land is needed to build roundabouts and construction costs are reduced.
How Roundabouts Work
Vehicles slow down when approaching a roundabout and must yield to those already in the circle, entering only when there is a gap to the left. Drivers in the roundabout always have the right-of-way. Roundabouts include plenty of signage – both on signage boards and painted on the asphalt – to direct traffic to the appropriate lanes and exits. Once in the circle, drivers travel in a counter-clockwise direction until reaching their desired exit. Pedestrians cross at designated areas and motorists must always yield to pedestrians.
The picture above is of a new roundabout constructed in the community of Avonport, and serves as an example to what the interchanges of Highway 104 at Antigonish will look like. A flyer was provided to local residents in Avonport to teach drivers and pedestrians how to travel through a roundabout, with a section designed especially for children:
More information about roundabouts can be found at: