Controversial Moncton roundabout opens

Moncton commuters took the city's newest roundabout at the intersection of Killam Drive and Collishaw Street for a test drive Tuesday morning.

Some drivers aren't convinced that the $3M roundabout will be an improvement over traffic lights

Moncton's new $3 million roundabout is now open after five months of construction. (City of Moncton)
​Moncton commuters took the city's newest roundabout at the intersection of Killam Drive and Collishaw Street for a test drive Tuesday morning.

The roundabout has been controversial because of its price tag of $3 million dollars and the impact local business owners fear it will have on traffic.

City of Moncton transportation coordinator Stephan Thibodeau believes drivers will quickly be won over by the roundabout, which he says will allow traffic to move more quickly and more safely than the traffic lights that used to be there.

"At a traffic light you can sit there for 45 seconds, depending on how long you have to sit there on a red. Here you don't, you just wait until you have a gap in the circle, and you go."

On Tuesday morning, Codiac Transpo supervisor Trevor Robson reported that traffic was moving smoothly through the roundabout.

"It's going well, the bus drivers were using it Saturday, Sunday and this morning and it's going good," said Robson.

Thibodeau says the small roundabout is a tight circle that will force drivers to slow down.

"Hopefully people will get accustomed to it," he said. "Basically you're just going in a circle and driving around so hopefully we'll see people moving freely."

Grace Baraly isn't a supporter of the new roundabout she will have to use on her way to work every day.

"We'll have to get used to it won't we, they're not going to take it down. I hope it just doesn't cause too much traffic friction."

Roundabout won't fully open until May

One of the reasons behind the new roundabout was to provide a second way to access the four-plex on Russ Howard Drive but that leg of the roundabout isn't open yet.

Warning lights have to be installed across the train crossing before it can be used and Thibodeau doesn't expect that will happen until May of 2014.
The new roundabout won't fully open until May of 2014 because of delays in building a railway crossing on the leg of the roundabout that will connect it to Russ Howard Drive and the four-plex. (Marc Genuist/CBC)

"In order to get a level crossing completed, it has to go to CN themselves and the process with CN can take several times, several months, actually years." he said. 

Thibodeau says the city began the process of getting permission to cross the tracks and have warning lights installed eight years ago and he says the city only recently received the approval from CN.

Thibodeau says research shows roundabouts are much safer and more efficient at moving traffic than traffic lights.

Unlike larger traffic circles, the traffic moves slowly and drivers are expected to yield before they enter, rather than when they exit.