A crash into a utility pole Friday was not due to the design of the roundabout intersection at Washington Avenue and Independence Drive.
That is according to city officials who said the driver of the tractor-trailer who struck the pole had driven onto the sidewalk before the truck actually entered the intersection.
City Administrator Russell Rost said Union police concluded that the tractor-trailer came into the intersection while southbound on Highway A.
“She obviously had the trailer up on the sidewalk,” Rost said. “We are not sure why it occurred, but she cut the corner too short and couldn’t clear the intersection.”
The intersection was closed about 6:30 a.m. Friday after the tractor-trailer struck a utility pole, which snapped and dangled by utility lines above the center of the roundabout.
The intersection was closed until after 10 p.m. Friday while crews worked to install a new pole and repair lines.
Rost added that the driver of the truck had initially driven into the intersection on the east side of Independence Drive, then took an immediate right turn onto Washington Avenue. She then turned the vehicle around, traveled southbound on Highway A and then made an immediate right onto Independence Drive.
“When the trailer tires entered the intersection they were already on the sidewalk,” Rost said. “One witness said she stopped (after striking the pole), but started again and the force caused the pole to break.”
He further added that tractor-trailers had been driven through the intersection to test the design, and changes were made to the intersection once it was determined that some tractor-trailers were unable to make immediate right turns.
“We went from standard to mountable islands because some trucks with certain axles needed more leeway when they did not make a perfect turn,” he said.
There has been much criticism of the roundabout intersection.
Rost said area residents have stated their dislike for roundabouts on the city’s Facebook page under a post seeking input on the State Street and Church Street four-way stop.
He added that the post had been removed once the conversation turned away from the four-way stop, and some of the comments were inappropriate.
There also were comments on the emissourian Facebook page from residents both in favor of the roundabout and against it.
Some criticisms included that a roundabout should not be located on a truck route to an industrial park and that the intersection was a waste of money, or confusing.
There also were many who commented on the Facebook post in favor of roundabouts, stating that the intersections work if drivers know how to use them properly.
According to Rost, the intersection is working as intended and is effective.
“There are significant changes in flow of traffic during a driving period,” he said. “At night, there is hardly any traffic, but in the day there is a significant amount of traffic.”
He explained that the intersection had a fully signalized red, green and yellow” light, but that was changed to a four-way stop with a flashing red light.
The roundabout allows for a more continuous flow, regardless of the amount of traffic or the time of day, Rost said.