Thursday, 20 November 2008

Hemel Hempstead Magic Roundabout

Magic Roundabout
In this article it is stated "Shortly after the opening the driver of an articulated lorry failed to understand the new junction so tried to drive straight across the middle." This is wrong information. The brakes failed on the lorry as it came down St Albans Hill dual carriageway. The driver went over the "top" of the centre of the main roundabout in an effort to spare lives. A stopping area for failed brakes was subsequently improved on the dual carriageway.

Prior to this design, the roundabout had spiral lanes spinning out from the centre. The idea was that motorists drove into the middle of the roundabout then got into the lane that would spin them off. This did not work because too many just ignored the lane markings.

When the present design was introduced I worked in a building overlooking the roundabout. Very early one Sunday morning there was a head on collision because someone was driving on it like one big giant roundabout and someone else was using it how it was supposed to be used, as a series of minis.

When the present design was first launched there were queues back to Berkhamstead while people figured out how to use it. The chairman of the council, Cllr Gordon Gaddes was asked by his transport department if they should abandon it. Cllr Gaddes told them to stick with it. And they have done ever since. It does handle thousands of traffic movements every day.

Underpasses for some routes through the Moorend Roundabout might be nice, but expensive, since the water table there is very low and would require lots of water to be pumped daily. Overpasses would be nice too, again expensive, and also likely to be ugly. The present roundabout does a grand job. Traffic moves much more fluidly than any set of traffic lights might.
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