The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

May 21, 2013

Roundabout concerns, affections voiced

Open house provided information about Highway 22 plans


MANKATO — Most others at the meeting, though, were there not to oppose the roundabouts but to ask questions and express concerns about traffic disruption during construction.

And at least one couple were outright fans of the idea.

"We like roundabouts" said Del Finch when asked why he and his wife, Joellen, came to the meeting. "I'd like to see one at Victory and Madison. That¹s where they need a roundabout."

The couple could be excused for having romantic attitudes about roundabouts, having first driven on one 51 years ago during a visit to Paris. Their affection, though, has more to do with traffic flow.

 "It¹s smooth," Joellen Finch said. "You don¹t have to sit around and wait (for a light to change) when there¹s nobody around."

She said people will need some retraining. Their daughter in Oklahoma has a roundabout near her home, one that replaced a four-way stop a year or two ago, and people occasionally still come to a complete stop when they reach the roundabout.

But Del Finch, 80, said people will get the hang of roundabouts quickly and predicts most will share his favorable opinion before long.

"Old people shouldn¹t be afraid to learn how to navigate," he said.

As the Finches shared their thoughts and Jeff offered the opposite view

nearby, a dozen other conversations continued around the room ‹ centered on the four roundabout maps, a roundabout floor model, and a table top roundabout with toy cars. Engineers staffed most of the stations, and Hoffman Construction President James Hoffman - the construction advisor for the project - manned another.

Beyond the general newness of roundabouts in the region, the project brings the potential for serious disruption to the busiest streets in town during construction. Madison is Mankato¹s foremost retail avenue. Adams serves the River Hills Mall and the Hy-Vee-anchored shopping area east of there. Highway 22 is the primary road feeding the wider east-side retail and commercial hub of the city.

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