Traffic goes ’round in downtown Cary

CorrespondentJuly 27, 2013 

— Jennifer Peterson wasn’t thrilled with the seven months of downtown road construction that re-routed traffic around her business on East Chatham Street.

So she was happy to help celebrate on Saturday the completion of two new traffic roundabouts. She’s even hopeful the circles might boost business at Petersons’ Consigning Design.

“Honestly, the construction detours were kind of a nightmare,” Peterson said. “I like the roundabouts and think they will end up bringing more people downtown, which is great for our business.”

The town of Cary hosted a Roundabout 5K on Saturday to show off the traffic devices at the intersections of East Chatham Street and East Durham Road and West Chatham Street and Old Apex Road.

Town leaders have touted the roundabouts as gateways to downtown, where major rejuvenation efforts are in the works. So they figured a foot race would be the perfect way to get residents to explore the new traffic pattern – and maybe to convince them to embrace the sometimes controversial circles.

While many engineers say roundabouts are generally safer than traditional intersections, some drivers find them a bit tricky.

But Cary officials say the single-lane design of the local roundabouts will be an easy transition.

“Other municipalities in the state have tried multiple-lane roundabouts, and I think that may have caused more confusion than these will,” said Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, who participated in the race. “This will serve the citizens well and let traffic flow smoother and safer.”

Joanne Elder of Cary said she was apprehensive at first about the roundabouts.

“I was wondering how they would fit in,” she said. “But I can see they did a really good job with it.”

The $1.4 million project finished ahead of schedule, despite plenty of rain this summer.

Now that they’re open for traffic, the roundabouts will benefit drivers and pedestrians, said Carrie Roman, a spokeswoman for the town.

“There was a lot of concern at first about the roundabouts,” she said. “But our engineers did a lot of research and made sure we did this right. And the focus is really to get people flowing into downtown.”

Daniel Sosa, who moved to Cary from Miami a month ago, said Saturday’s event was his introduction to downtown.

“This was definitely a chance for me to get out and meet some people,” he said. “I really needed to figure out what attractions were downtown anyway. I have three kids at home, so it will be nice to learn more about the area.”

His mother, Esther Cruz, traveled from Florida to run the 5K with her son. They joined about 300 runners for the race.

“I think the roundabouts look great,” Cruz said. “They really do slow people down so it’s not like a car race everyday.”

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