CF does it the roundabout way

JACOB MADDEN, News Editor | [email protected]

University Avenue has recently been thrown into disarray, and many Cedar Falls residents and students have encountered heavy road construction due to the new University Avenue Reconstruction Project.

While the construction has only been underway since the beginning of March, the project itself has been in the works since as early as 2012.

University Avenue was dilapidated at the time, and the Cedar Falls City Council proposed four solutions, according to the office of the city clerk.

According to council meeting minutes, of these four options, the Iowa Department of Transportation supported two.

The first of these was reducing the six lane roadway to four lanes, repaving it and optimizing stoplights.

The second option was to reduce the six lanes to four, repave the road entirely and include roundabouts wherever possible, instead of signals. The city council decided on the solution that included roundabouts.

The project was approved with eight priorities. These included: a safe and efficient design, an estimated $4 million budget, the inclusion of safe pedestrian and mass transit links and that the project would be completed in three phases, according to the meeting minutes.

The first phase is currently underway and covers the area just after the Highway 58 junction to where Waterloo Road and University Avenue merge.

The goal of the second phase is to include the area from Waterloo Road to Midway Drive. The project will then be completed with the addition of roundabouts instead of stoplights at the Highway 58 junction.

In total, it is planned that University Avenue will include six total roundabouts between the Highway 58 junction and Midway Drive.

Students and professors alike have voiced their displeasure over the decision to build roundabouts.

However, Jay Goulden, driver’s education instructor at Cedar Falls High School and UNI driver and safety education instructor, thinks that these roundabouts are a step in the right direction for Cedar Falls.

“I think they’re going to make a positive impact. It’s the older people I worry about,” Goulden said. He said that elderly drivers might have to adjust to the new roundabouts.

Goulden went on to say that many of Cedar Falls’ older residents have little to no experience with roundabouts, whereas the many UNI students who traverse University Avenue have most likely at least driven through a roundabout in another city due to their recent surge in popularity.

Some UNI students noted that they had not received much of an education on roundabouts.

However, very few expressed much concern for the safety of the road, regardless of lack of experience.

“I remember learning about them in a textbook, but not necessarily in a driving way,” junior music education major Nick Behrends said. “I think it might be an adjustment period, but after a couple of years I think it should work pretty well.”

While some students have had little experience with roundabouts, others have encountered roundabouts as a part of their daily routine. One such student is sophomore deciding major Claire Guderjahn, who explained that she learned about roundabouts in her driver’s education class because her town had many.

“I know of a high school nearby us who had, like, four roundabouts right next their own high school,” Guderjahn said. “So I’ve heard from students who have experienced that every morning [say] that it’s awful because a lot of people don’t know how to use it. I think that if everyone was educated about [roundabouts] it could be effective. However, especially in the nighttime and evening, when people are driving quickly and not paying attention, it could be harmful.”

While the experiences of UNI students varies, Goulden explained, informing driver’s education students about roundabouts at every chance available is critical because roundabouts are becoming the mode of traffic regulation of the future.

Goulden noted that they prevent wasting gas idling at a stoplight, as well as making head-on collisions far rarer.