Seems to be no love for the roundabout

I hadn’t even heard a roundabout was one of the fixes proposed for the intersection off Highway 97 to Okanogan. That is until the Facebook links started appearing in my email towards the end of last week. And by the time we got a press release about an Open House meeting to be held on Wednesday, Sept. 19 at the DOT maintenance facility (article in Gazette-Tribune), it was old news.
Firstly, I wasn’t aware that there was such a big problem with collisions at this intersection (US97 Cameron Lake/Armory Junction Roads), which many of us take when we drive to Okanogan to do business. However, I can understand how it could be. Vehicles do tend to bunch up before they make the turn to Okanogan and those that do turn often take the curved exit at too great a speed as they approach the stop sign at the bottom of the hill (but that’s a different problem).
At first glance a roundabout seems a bit like overkill, and from watching the videos on how to properly negotiate one I could envision an equal potential for accidents among the driving public. If you use them properly I’m sure everything would be fine, but why are they a more efficient use of highway dollars than just installing turn lanes? I’ll be curious to find out at the Open House.
Not to say I’ve never had the pleasure of taking a roundabout, but most of my experience was as the navigator on the motorways in France when I visited Normandy with family a few years back. My younger brother did most of the driving and it was my job to count the exits and make sure we entered the right one. Those were lot more complex than what is proposed by the state Department of Transportation and although they were supposed to make your driving experience better, without the GPS we would have been lost. There they have one roundabout after another and after you take two or three you are sure you’re going back exactly the direction you came or some other point that has nothing to do with where you want to go. However, we managed not to get lost.
I grudgingly admit my first experience with the one at North Bend did not end happily. I had to circle around and try it again. The next time I was in the area I paid better attention and it was a piece of cake.
There’s a whole FaceBook page dedicated to the issue at: Facebook: DOT “Open House” Meeting on proposed Roundabout on Hwy. 97. At this point it appears most of the traffic there is because roundabout would seem a more costly fix than just putting in turn lanes, although one person commented, “Oh god not another one of these! The one up Steven’s Pass is horrible!” For those interested in the upcoming meeting it might be worth checking out the page, it has links to the DOT proposal and lots of back and forth.