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As PennDOT plans more roundabouts, Warren residents say theirs comes with a learning curve

An aerial shot of the roundabout at Market St. in Warren, PA on Sept. 22, 2023.
John Sherrard
An aerial shot of the roundabout at Market St. in Warren, PA on Sept. 22, 2023.

PennDOT says Pennsylvania is on track to add more roundabouts in the coming years to improve safety and keep traffic flowing, but some residents of Warren are concerned about the learning curve that comes with their new roundabout.

Construction on the roundabout at Market Street is almost complete. It opened to traffic in mid-September, but PennDOT is still working on final touches, including street light installation.

Construction workers at the roundabout in Warren, PA.
Sydney Roach
Construction workers guiding traffic and installing pavement markers at the roundabout in Warren, PA.

Jill Harry, a press officer with PennDOT, stood on a sidewalk next to the roundabout Tuesday afternoon, while workers guided traffic and put pavement markings on the road.

“Which I think is helping clarify people where they need to actually be traveling,” Harry said, as a driver honked their horn. “So, what you just heard – there's the learning curve.”

Harry said the roundabout will make traffic flow more easily and safely once drivers get more familiar with it.

John Sherrard lives near the roundabout. He says many people in Warren were against it because of financial concerns. The project cost $3.9 million, according to PennDOT’s website.

Sherrard also worries about pedestrian safety at the roundabout.

“Last week, they were doing lines out there on the crosswalk and I just about got hit by a truck and a trailer. So, it really scared me and makes me concerned for other people, because Warren has a lot of older people and a lot of handicapped people,” Sherrard said.

Sherrard said he thinks safety will improve once people understand how to use the roundabout. He also said it is easier than other roundabouts as it only has one lane instead of two.

According to PennDOT data from 2003-2022, roundabouts reduce deaths, injuries, and crashes. A review of 42 roundabouts in Pennsylvania showed crashes with non-serious injuries were cut in half. Serious injuries were reduced by nearly one-quarter.

Sydney Roach is a reporter and host for WPSU with a passion for radio and community stories.