December 17, 2003


State OK's removal of Sagamore rotary (Beth Daley, Boston Globe, 12/17/03)

The Sagamore Rotary, long the most grueling hurdle for thousands of travelers who flock to Cape Cod on summer weekends, will be dismantled beginning as early as this spring and replaced by a road that sends Route 3 traffic straight onto the Sagamore Bridge.

State Environmental Affairs Secretary Ellen Roy Herzfelder gave her final approval yesterday of the $35 million project, which was opposed by environmentalists and some residents who worried that easier access to the Cape would increase development.

"To everyone who has had to endure that broken intersection, we are on our way to fixing it," said Daniel A. Grabauskas, state secretary of transportation. "It is a great milestone."

I love rotaries, and this rotary in particular. They're worth all the trouble they cause just for the chance to see out-of-staters drive 'round and 'round trying to figure out how to exit and they are the best way to deal with two traffic flows converging at a heavy intersection. I'm skeptical that this solution will greatly decrease the wait on the heaviest days, as narrowing Route 6 down to one lane is going to cause its own troubles. On light traffic days, the rotary causes no trouble at all.

Posted by David Cohen at December 17, 2003 2:50 PM

You're right about watching the out-of-towners. On the one hand, Legal Seafood; on the other, rotaries. It's a question whether I'll ever go to Boston again.

There's a big push to inflict rotaries on us out here, by people who have never had to use one in heavy traffic. Not to mention that they are kind of expensive where land runs $500K an acre.

Rotaries work only where they are not needed.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at December 17, 2003 4:23 PM

The old Hawthorne Circle north of New York City, where the Saw Mill and Taconic State parkways met (collided) was the biggest source of accidents in the NYC Metro area outside of the old Demolition Derby arena in Islip. It's been gone for over 30 years, but some new traffic circles/rotaries have been created in recent years, but the circles are smaller which supposedly decreases the odds of accidents but improves traffic flow compared with four-way stop intersections and without the neccessity of installing traffic signals.

Posted by: John at December 17, 2003 7:11 PM

Sorry Dave but I'm no fan of rotaries. I go through 2 rotaries (in MA) each day going home from work. At least a couple of times a month I'm almost sideswiped/cut off/rear-ended by people in the rotary - and these are people who go through the rotary daily like I do, not out of towners. The local paper police notes is often full of accidents at the rotaries. Yes rotaries are nostalgic and unique to MA but there can be a better way.

Posted by: AWW at December 17, 2003 11:00 PM

Light traffic days? I don't remember the last time I saw a light traffic day at the Sagamore rotary, but maybe once they get rid of it I will!

That said, I found the rotaries in Britain pretty easy to use and understand -- even for someone driving on the wrong side of the road for the first time! -- but they're wider and much better laid-out than the Sagamore abomination. Plus people are used to them: once the number of rotaries in New England fell to a certain level, a tipping point must have been passed and people just collectively forgot what they were doing.

Posted by: Charlie Murtaugh at December 18, 2003 2:39 AM

I lived in England for seven years, and know roundabouts well. They work great where stop signs are sufficient. But less well in heavy traffic, because it is a near mathematical certainty that one flow obtain the right of way and not relinquish it for long periods.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at December 18, 2003 8:04 AM

1. Change is bad and minor change is worst of all.

2. All rotaries should have big signs saying "RIGHT OF WAY BELONGS TO THE INSIDE CAR."

3. Driving in Boston, there really aren't many grounds on which to choose between rotaries, straightaways and red lights.

4. Rotaries are excellent where two roads with about equal traffic intersect, with cars on each switching to the other.

5. In terms of the Sagamore, I'm very skeptical that this will have any effect on the wait at the bridge. This sounds very similar to the approach to the Bourne bridge from the west, and cars are always backed up there (with less traffic). In particular, reducing the traffic flow to one lane to get onto the bridge sounds like a real problem.

6. Last Monday at 8:00 am traffic onto the Cape was very light.

Posted by: David Cohen at December 18, 2003 9:15 AM

As a former truck driver, I have nothing but vile words for rotaries.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at December 18, 2003 11:31 AM

"Last Monday at 8:00 am traffic onto the Cape was very light." Well, some of us have to go to our jobs in the city on Monday morning. :P

Posted by: Charlie Murtaugh at December 18, 2003 11:44 AM

Sports car drivers see them differently...

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at December 18, 2003 2:20 PM

I had a business meeting in Hyannis at 10:00. Because of the snow storm, I left an hour early and, of course, ran into no delays at all.

Posted by: David Cohen at December 18, 2003 7:13 PM

Rotaries should be abolished, mainly because drivers are becoming increasingly oblivious and downright stupid. I can't count the number of times I have sat behind some in-towner or out-of-towner watching car after car whiz by on the inside lane, yet they won't go! They're scared and ignorant of how it works...much like the 4 way stop and the blinking red light. Something needs to be done to save my sanity and the sanity of all drivers like me who are not afraid to venture out into the rotary boldly and coonfident of my own driving ability.

Posted by: Brad Co at February 24, 2004 11:16 AM