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PennDOT says a recent study of traffic circles in the state shows a noticeable reduction in collisions and the severity of injuries at sites where traditional stop signs or lights have been replaced with roundabouts.

This is good news for Carlisle, which has already committed to building three roundabout intersections in the borough as part of the ongoing redevelopment projects at the former IAC/Masland and Carlisle Tire & Wheel sites.

“We are glad to promote the use of roundabouts throughout the commonwealth,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards said in a release. “The facts speak for themselves. Roundabouts save lives and reduce crash severity over standard stop or signal controlled intersections.”

PennDOT’s study encompassed 19 intersections on state roads and had at least three years of crash data available both before and after the roundabout was built, with data years spanning from 2000 to 2018.

The total number of crashes on the studied intersections dropped 34 percent, from 138 incidents to 91, in the three years after roundabouts were installed versus the comparable prior years, according to PennDOT.

The number of injuries at those intersections classified as “serious” by the Pennsylvania State Police dropped 90 percent, from 10 injuries pre-roundabouts to just one serious traffic injury post-roundabouts.

PSP-defined minor injuries dropped 79 percent, from 24 to five, and total injuries of an undefined severity dropped 81 percent, from 70 to 13.

One of the 19 roundabouts included in the study was in Cumberland County, at the intersection of Sunnyside Drive, Spring Road and Mountain Road in northern Middlesex Township near the Cumberland-Perry county line.

PennDOT describes roundabouts as “safer and typically more efficient than traditional signalized intersections.”

Carlisle Connectivity

Carlisle has committed heavily to the concept as part of what the borough calls the Carlisle Connectivity Project — a broad range of infrastructure improvements intended to support major redevelopment projects at the former IAC/Masland factory site and the former Carlisle Tire & Wheel site.

Both former industrial sites are being rehabilitated into mixed-use developments, the former by Carlisle Auto Industries, the development arm of Carlisle Events, and the latter by PIRHL, a Cleveland-based developer that specializes in affordable housing.

In order to support the projects, the borough intends to rebuild a number of surrounding streets. This will include the installation of three roundabouts; one at the intersection of B and College streets, another at the intersection of B Street and Fairground Avenue, and the largest at the intersection of North Hanover Street and Carlisle Springs Road.

Funding for Carlisle’s infrastructure improvements, including roundabouts, comes partially from PennDOT itself via a $1.5 million grant from the state’s Multimodal Transportation Fund that was awarded in 2014.

In 2016, the borough received a windfall $5 million federal TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant as well.

Borough officials said this summer that contracts for the construction of the roundabouts will likely be issued at the end of the year, and work will begin in early 2020.

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Email Zack at zhoopes@cumberlink.com.

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