You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

11 and counting: another roundabout planned, this one at Geddes and Ridge roads

By Lisa Allmendinger

Whether you like them or loathe them, roundabouts are fast becoming a fact of driving life throughout Washtenaw County.

A new roundabout at Geddes and Ridge roads in Superior Township would mark the 11th project of this type in the county. The 10th is planned for State and Ellsworth roads in Pittsfield Township, and both are part of 2013 road improvements for nearby construction projects.

The new roundabout at Geddes and Ridge roads is planned in conjunction with the construction of South Pointe Scholars Charter Academy, and would become the fourth one on Geddes Road.

The roundabout at State Road and Ellsworth Road is part of planned road improvements for the new Costco store, and an informational meeting to lay out the project drew more than 250 people to the PittsfieldTownship Hall last month.

Roundabouts are favored by highway engineers and the Washtenaw County Road Commission as safety measures. Officials say they move the flow of traffic through areas better than stop lights, but still force people to slow down. However, they can be confusing for people who are not used to navigating them.

“This (Superior Township) project has the full support of the township,” said Doug Fuller, road commission board chairman.

Currently, there are nine roundabouts in Washtenaw County, according to the Road Commission, and here's the list:

  • Geddes and Superior in Superior Township
  • Whittaker and Stony Creek in Ypsilanti Township
  • Huron Parkway and Nixon in Ann Arbor
  • Campus Parkway and Community Drive in Pittsfield Township at Harvest Elementary School
  • Campus Parkway and Sunset in Pittsfield Township at Saline High School
  • M-14 and Maple / Maple @ Skyline H.S. in Scio and Ann Arbor townships
  • US-23 and Geddes in Ann Arbor Township
  • Geddes and Earhart in Ann Arbor
  • East Ann Street and Observatory in Ann Arbor

The charter school intersection improvements are planned in connection with the spring and summer construction of the charter school and all costs of the right of way acquisition, the roundabout and other road improvements will be paid for by the school.

Road Commissioner Ken Schwartz said “in that area, there a lot of people who feel there is need for another school.”

Roy Townsend, managing director of the Road Commission, said that although the school will be constructed this spring and summer, the roundabout isn't planned until 2013.

Geddes Road east of Ridge Road will be widened, milled and paved, according to the agreement. Also planned are a westbound center left-turn lane and an auxiliary eastbound right-turn lane for traffic accessing the school’s Geddes Road commercial driveway, according to the contract.

Additionally, there will be a 10-foot shared pathway on the south side of Geddes Road from the west project limits to the school’s property line.

The Washtenaw County Road Commission Tuesday afternoon unanimously approved the contract with Charter Development Company.

View Larger Map

isa Allmendinger is a regional reporter for, who also covers the Washtenaw County Road Commission. She can be reached at


Chris Hall

Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 4:51 p.m.

Here are a few things people might not know about roundabouts: 1. They've been in use successfully for decades in Europe. There's a massive one around the Arc De Triomphe in Paris with 12 roads entering. It's six lanes across and there are no lines on the road. 2. There are many in New Jersey and New York with huge traffic and pedestrian counts. 3. They allow every car approaching the intersection to turn right, left, go straight, or do a u-turn, which can be very handy. 4. Drivers will save a ton of time. I drove a service vehicle in A2 for 10 years, waiting at some intersections is an enormous waste of time. 5. Drivers will save fuel, no sitting and idling for three minutes. Better for the environment too. 6. It's easier for cars entering the traffic flow from businesses adjacent to the intersection to go the direction they want to. Right now, you sometimes have to go the wrong way just to get into the traffic flow and then turn around to get going the way you want. This will be a lot easier with a roundabout. Finally, yes, they take some getting used to. And, frankly, some drivers will simply never get the hang of it. However, that situation already exists. How many times have you sat behind a car at a light, the light changes but they don't get going fast enough - and zap! The A2 sensor system sees a gap in the cars and changes the light. Or, they are in one lane but decide at the last second they need to be in a different lane, and so they hold everybody up while they creep over. A roundabout makes both situations disappear. Sure, they're not perfect, but compared to what we have now, I'll take a roundabout any day.

Scott Batson

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 7:11 p.m.

Modern roundabouts are the safest form of intersection in the world. Visit for FAQs and safety facts. The safety comes from the 'slow and go' operation instead of the 'stop or go fast' way a stop light works (or the 'keep going fast' large traffic circle fantasy). The smaller size of the modern roundabout is what makes them safer and keeps speeds in the 20 mph range. This makes it much easier to avoid a crash or stop for pedestrians. It also means that if a crash happens the likelihood of injury is very low. Safety is the #1 reason there are over 2,400 modern roundabouts in the US today and many more on the way. Slow and go also means less delay than a stop light, especially the other 20 hours a day people aren't driving to or from work. Average daily delay at a signal is around 12 seconds per car. At a modern roundabout average delay is less than five seconds. Signals take an hour of demand and restrict it to a half hour, at best only half the traffic gets to go at any one time. At a modern roundabout four drivers entering from four directions can all enter at the same time. Don't try that with a signalized intersection.


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 8 p.m.

I like these things; most people have no idea how to drive on them though.............


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 4:56 p.m.

I dislike the one at Huron Parkway and Nixon, but loathe the one on the east side of 23 at Geddes. Traffic exiting NB 23 backs up just as far as "BTC" (before traffic circle) because: A) the circle is far too small in diameter and B) the concrete barriers on the overpass block drivers view to the west. There's not enough time to determine if there's oncoming traffic so you either wait for an eternity for a gap or say: "#^$* it, I've been here long enough" and pull out. I wonder if the people who decide to install these things ever use them, especially the poorly designed ones.

Chris Hall

Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 4:57 p.m.

I think this is the biggest problem for the ones in Washtenaw County. If they added just one more lane to the roundabout it would make them a lot easier to use. The European ones have more lanes, as do the ones in New York and New Jersey.

Ann English

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 12:34 a.m.

That one at Huron Parkway and Nixon is fine to me, I use it most of the time when I go to the Traverwood Branch Library, but I've only used the one on Geddes west of US-23 once. That was on March 11, when we went on Daylight Saving Time. There was an auto accident on southbound US-23 just north of Geddes that afternoon, and a long line of backed-up traffic formed. It was most likely better to have that roundabout in place than not, and I made a right turn onto Geddes.


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 8:46 p.m.

Most of them are too small in diameter. They force people to negotiate in them to quickly and that results in gridlock. European roundabouts are larger in my experience.


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 8:02 p.m.

There's a great bicycle bridge there though.........maybe they should have spent more money on the road and incorporated a bike path alongside the circle...........Had to spend that stimulus money; it seems to be working on you..........

Basic Bob

Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 7:24 p.m.

I must have been behind you this morning. At 20 mph, you can confidently merge and beat any eastbound traffic you can't see.


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 3:07 p.m.

why does even bother opening the comments section on these articles? you could simply copy and paste them from all the previous editions.


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 2:46 p.m.

Can we please (please!) get one or two at Michigan Ave and US-23. That area is a nightmare anytime of day! And, also at Michigan Ave and Platt?!

Ann English

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 12:24 a.m.

One at Michigan Avenue and Platt. That sounds like Saline to me. Sounds like it's something to bring to Saline's local government's attention. I had begun noticing that no roundabouts are mentioned in Dexter, Chelsea or Manchester, and now Saline can go into the mix. I 've never driven through the Michigan Avenue--US-23 intersection, but that sounds like Saline, also. If it's a part-city, part-county decision to or not to put in a roundabout, Whitmore Lake haven and Milan will not put any roundabouts in as soon as Saline, Manchester, Chelsea or Dexter can. Those two straddle county lines.

Basic Bob

Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 4:22 p.m.

That whole area needs to be a four lane boulevard with Michigan lefts. I think it's the most congested road in the county.


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

Actually the proposed roundabout would be the fifth, not the fourth, on Geddes Rd. There are two roundabouts at US23 plus one at Earhart and one at Superior.

Joe Edwards

Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 1:54 p.m.

I also support more traffic circles at congested intersections. For me personally, the traffic circles at Nixon/Huron Parkway and Geddes/Earhart have made those intersection safer and easier to drive, while eliminating long delays on my daily commute. Complaints about circles being too small mean that drivers are attempting to negotiate them too fast. Instead of widening the circles, how about SLOWING DOWN? Now, how do we get a traffic circle at Nixon/Green/Dhu Varren on the "To-Do" list?

Ann English

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 12:13 a.m.

That's one safety-promoting aspect of roundabouts: No one can race through an intersection which has a roundabout in it. Collisions can occur, but never at such high speeds as those at intersections that have no roundabout.


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 5:05 p.m.

Joe, apparently you haven't been cut-off by someone who has no clue as to how to negotiate a rotary. To this day I still encounter people at Nixon/Huron Pkwy. who refuse to yield. I have even been chased down/flashed/flipped-off by someone when I had the right-of-way. Just yesterday I saw some confused soul sitting at the entrance when no traffic was approaching from the left (and no pedestrians either). Rotaries out east are much larger than those in Ann Arbor.


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.

That would be nice! It's so hard to see at that intersection. You can't tell where people are going.


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 1:26 p.m.

I find this crazy. We have the ultimate triple at Lee Road and 23 which is still a nightmare after several years. People just don't know how to drive them and run into each other, cut people off and generally slow traffic. Also, the circumference is far too small to make the navigable. Theoretically they make sense, but practically, I don't see benefit. They have been really popular out east, where they are now being removed.

Ann English

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 12:07 a.m.

Are you thinking of one in a Montpelier, Vermont school district? I read about and saw a photo of that one online before the three on Maple Road were built, and it enhanced children's safety who walked to the elementary school very near it. The school authorities were very satisfied with the results of putting in that roundabout.

Jimmy McNulty

Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 9:29 p.m.

Oh yes, the Jersey traffic circles in Marlton, Vincetown, and other southern NJ towns.

Long Time No See

Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 6:09 p.m.

JustMyOpinion may be thinking of the east coast traffic circles, which are not the same as roundabouts. "A large number of traffic circles have been converted to other types of junctions. Several have been converted to roundabouts, now meeting modern roundabout design standards, including the former Kingston traffic circle in New York and several in New Jersey."

Jimmy McNulty

Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.

Really? From where are they being removed?


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 1:25 p.m.

HUGE problems with roundabouts in Washtenaw Cty. #1-They are way too small. I've seen large trucks nearly tip over on the roundabout at Huron Parkway and Nixon, for example. The truck wheels end up in the center section, which is higher, and the trucks are off balance, while they are trying to turn a tight circle. #2-People do not slow down as they approach the roundabout. I've approached roundabouts many times and most drivers just hit the gas and zoom through as they approach with no regard to who is already in the roundabout or other cars at the edge waiting for the opening to get in. #3-They are a huge hazard where pedestrians are trying to cross, since many drivers do not slow down. Pedestrians make it to the middle and then are stuck. No one yields to pedestrians. More of these is not good news.

Scott Batson

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 7:09 p.m.

The center area around the circular island is not a sidewalk. It's called a truck apron, and it's for large trucks to track onto when making turns.


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 1:06 p.m.

Miniature NASCAR tracks - just keep turning left!


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 12:43 p.m.

Can't we just FIX the city's roads first and instead?? Fill in the potholes, repave some badly need streets!!! Where and what are the priorities?

Jimmy McNulty

Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 12:16 p.m.

Great idea, I'm a big fan of these. They eliminate the need to come to a complete stop (remember this, folks), but only to YIELD to traffic coming from your left. This should eliminate afternoon backups due to the 4-way stop sign at that intersection.

Ann English

Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 11:59 p.m.

The worst I've seen on one of the service drives to/from M-14 involved four vehicles waiting for traffic from the right to clear the roundabout; yes, sometimes stopping for roundabout traffic to clear IS necessary. But the number of cars waiting to get into it never exceeded four. The situation you describe at Geddes and Ridge Road remind me of the traffic at Zeeb Road and Dexter-Ann Arbor Road; the traffic keeps moving, but the line of cars stopping and accelerating up to the intersection in the afternoon can get long.


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 12:10 p.m.

I wish they were larger so that people can have more time to decide if the vehicle already in the circle is continuing or turning.

Ann English

Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 11:53 p.m.

Whenever I turn left at one roundabout on Maple, I turn on my left turn signal as I enter the roundabout. I don't know if approaching traffic on my right can or do see my signal, but they all yield the right of way to me, even if they themselves turn right. I think I know what you're thinking: the drivers on my right yield because they don't want to take any chances on my possibly going straight through the roundabout, right where they themselves want to go (by turning right). Sometimes I yield to traffic getting off M-14, and let it go straight through another roundabout, right where I want to go by turning right; I don't look for their turn signals indicating what they want to do, I just watch the vehicle exit the roundabout wherever, and then get into it. The bigger a roundabout is, the more traffic lanes and traffic can go around it.


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 3:26 p.m.

Use of a turn signal as required when exiting the roundabout solves that problem. But since this is A2, lotsa luck.


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 1:45 p.m.

That's my biggest gripe with traffic circles- they're usually too tight.

Jeff H

Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 11:43 a.m.

Another good spot for a traffic circle. They should've built one just a little further north where Ridge, Saltz, and Denton come together just north of Cherry Hill Village.


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 11:04 a.m.

Is there some sort of federal funding for these?? What gives? At this rate they should rename Geddes Ave, Dizzy Ave.


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 10:53 a.m.

yay for more traffic circles! once people figure out how to actually DRIVE, they work really well.