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November 4, 2010 - Brian Rowell
The latest development in the ongoing Stephenson Avenue project is driving lessons. The city of Escanaba is sponsoring a driving class to explain how to use the new roundabout under construction. It will replace the Y where Sheridan Road branches out from Stephenson Avenue. It seems the prospect of a roundabout must be making some residents nervous to the point lessons are needed to traverse the area’s newest improvement in transportation. Upon learning of the development, one of my colleagues commented that anyone who has a valid Michigan drivers license and doesn’t know how to use a roundabout probably shouldn’t have a license in the first place. That’s probably true — to a point. Roundabouts are a rare bird in the U.P, though. It is easy to see how anyone unfamiliar with a roundabout would be apprehensive. It’s a new thing for Escanaba drivers. Anything that can lessen fears and prevent accidents, such as the roundabout class, is probably a good thing. Besides, the Stephenson Avenue project has caused its fair share of apprehension this year. Just a few months ago, a lack of planning and coordination between the Stephenson Avenue project and MDOT sidewalk work on Lincoln Road cause massive traffic snarls on the busy road and held the entire population of Northtown prisoner as they tried to find a way out that wasn’t clogged by traffic. For those who feel they need it, the roundabout class is a good investment in time. I often wonder, though, if the roundabout is needed at all. I like the simple approach. What’s simpler than a fork in the road. You either go left or right — period. You don’t even need a class to learn how to use it.
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