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Blue Earth's Roundabout Project Similar to New Prague's

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A project that has been in the works for years is underway in the city of Blue Earth.

Multiple roundabouts are being constructed on Highway 169 going through the city. A project that MN–DOT officials say, is very similar to another Minnesota city.

The city of Blue Earth's main traffic artery is under construction as crews put in three roundabouts on Highway 169.

A few years ago New Prague went through the transition and were apprehensive at first.

Minnesota Department of Transportation Engineer, Jed Falgren says, "Most communities when they see that roundabouts are coming in, there's some apprehension, and they're certainly nervous about them. But like we saw with New Prague, is those that were initially detractors about roundabouts that once they got in and got used to driving them, they found out that it was a much preferred intersection treatment."

Roundabouts have also been proven to have added benefits.

Blue Earth Mayor Richard Scholtes says, "169 is a state highway and they're studies that they have done that come to determine that roundabouts are cheaper to operate. And they're safer than traditional traffic lights at intersections."

Falgren says, "We eliminate the T–bone type crash and that is instead replaced with a merging type crash and far less severe, injuries are dramatically reduced, fatalities dramatically reduced and certainly that is the driving emphasis behind us installing roundabouts."

Although some drivers may disagree, Falgren says when approaching roundabouts, drivers pay the most attention.

Falgren says, "They put away their distractions and obviously a distracted driver is a driver that we are very concerned about. When coming in a roundabout people are very engaged and are thinking about how they're going to get most safely through that intersection."

An intersection treatment that is going to be more common in the future.

Officials hope all three roundabouts will be open before snow falls.