Saturday, January 3, 2009

Roundabout Way


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Christmas shopping and a quest for a replacement for my dead Airport wireless router has taken me to Augusta, our fair capital city, a couple times recently. Could someone tell me what is up with the Cony rotary?

Having lived in England for a while as a kid, I think rotaries, or roundabouts as the Brits call them, are the bees' knees. They're ecological and fast. No one has to stop unless absolutely necessary, saving both fuel and time.

The trouble is, the ones with more than one lane are counter-intuitive. Drivers going around farther than one exit are expected to dive into the center lane, drive 'round, signal and squirt out at the right place. Actually, the counter-intuitive-osity appeals to me, too.

Since there are two two-lane rotaries in Augusta, it is easy to tell the drivers who took driver ed somewhere free from similar traffic patterns. They have a panicked look on their faces as they circle the rotary in the outside lane, endangering the people who expect the outer lane to be empty or at the very least taking the same exit.

Lately the entrance to the rotary next to what used to be Cony High School, the one on the east side of the Kennebec, has three, count 'em, three lanes. The geniuses at MDOT have posted signs about six yards before the rotary's entrance explaining the concept of a rotary, long after a driver ought to have made a decision about which lane to take.

Apparently the logic is that the far right lane takes the driver east, out Cony Street, the middle one heads up Route 9 past O'Connor GMC to Waterville, and the far left lane points drivers to the rotary's center lane to spin around to either of the bridges crossing the Kennebec. Great in theory. Is it just me who thinks it would have been nice if some clue could be offered before driving past the high school parking lot?

Now the drivers circling the outside lane look closer to traumatized, their blanched faces and knuckles can be seen from space, and those of us following the rules on the inside lane have to use the eyes in the backs of our heads. Oy.

3 comments:

Alna Dem said...

When I drive this particular rotary I feel like I'm sailing backwards through time, to the era of Norman Bates motels and three-lane highways with death lane in the middle).

Just took Traffic out of the library and will be glad to regale you with civil engineering anecdotes when I'm done.

Andrea said...

The very first time I went through the rotary after they "redesigned" it someone went all the way around on the outside lane. So much for so much. I especially love how so much of the directional information for the new rotary (like the third lane that appears out of nowhere) are painted on the road which is invisible under a layer of salt, sand and snow 8 months out of the year. Go MaineDOT!

snoozetska said...

Oh! I forgot the stupid painted directions. Talk about insult to injury.