Don’t fix the Green Oak Township roundabouts; rip them out

The Green Oak Township roundabouts.
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There have been some spectacular failures in Livingston County through the years, but the Green Oak Township roundabouts are certainly at the very top of that list. And now the time has come for us to admit defeat.

It’s time to rip out the roundabouts. Don’t fix them, don’t tweak them, don’t reconfigure them. Don’t change them. Rip them out. Rip them out and replace them with good, old-fashioned traffic lights.

And do it now.

Located at the intersection of Lee Road and U.S. 23, the roundabouts have been a controversial mess since the day they opened in 2006. The single roundabout on the east side of U.S. 23 is a mess, but the double roundabout on the west side is a billion times worse.

They’re confusing, they’re aggravating and they’re dangerous. The Livingston County Road Commission says the roundabouts see about 40-60 crashes every year, which means that roughly once a week, there’s an accident there that’s bad enough to be reported to the cops.

I’m willing to bet a dollar that if we tore them out and put traffic lights in, we wouldn’t see an average of one accident every week.

According to this story last month on MLive.com, the Livingston County Road Commission is planning a major renovation of the roundabouts this summer. They’re going to spend $1.1 million to remove the outside lane on the roundabouts – a move they say will make them safer and less confusing.

I say that should spend that million bucks to just rip them out and put traffic lights in. Let’s just admit that we made a really big mistake back in 2006 and rip them out.

Having heard all the comments through the years, I’m guessing that if we put it to a vote in Livingston County, it would be roughly 90 percent to 10 percent in favor of ripping them out.

Among the minority of people who actually do love the roundabouts, their arguments all go pretty much like this:

“Blah blah blah you people just don’t know how to drive blah blah blah I’m a great driver and you just need to be a great driver like me blah blah blah Europe blah blah blah Canada blah blah blah everybody’s stupid except me blah blah blah.”

Well, good for you. I’m glad you’re a great driver and that you love the roundabouts. The rest of us would just like to be able to go to Costco without getting on southbound U.S. 23 by mistake.

So, that’s my plea to you, Livingston County Road Commission.

Don’t fix the roundabouts. Remove them.

What do you think?

Here’s the Livingston Post’s drone video of the roundabouts.

About Buddy Moorehouse 132 Articles
Longtime Livingston County journalist Buddy Moorehouse is director of communications at the Michigan Association of Public School Academies.

21 Comments

  1. General Motors has had traffic circles for as long as any of us can remember; long before there were any elsewhere in Michigan. They did it because it was safer and if you couldn’t manage them you didn’t drive on grounds. If you can’t handle driving through them, maybe you should hang up the keys.

  2. If you don’t like the roundabouts, go to the silver lake road exit and drive north on the service drives to the store of your choice. There is one located on each side of US23… Lee Road is not the only access point to the stores.

    Removing the roundabouts and placing traffic lights is the most ignorant thing I have heard. Drive M-59 between 23 and 96… There are several accidents everyday, and at least 2 fatalities per year in that stretch of M-59. From I-94 to I-96 there is only one stretch of M59 that is 2 lanes and that through Oceola Township… Spend the $$$ on upgrading M-59 and not the removing roundabouts!!

    Jason- I totally agree with you…. Buddy your IGNORANT!! But I guess you don’t understand real life, when you never leave public school system to make it in the real life… Hey couldn’t you find a better picture with out the tramp photo bombing you with her tongue out!?!?!

  3. Hey Buddy, great conversation here. My logic isn’t that we should put roundabouts everywhere. I am ONLY responding to your article about the Lee rd exit and that you think that we should go back to lights. It has already been proven that the roundabouts THERE have reduced fatalities and greatly sped up and stopped all of the backups onto 23. I actually wouldn’t compare it to the 59 intersection for a number of reasons, but that is not what your article is about, and is unrelated to the fatalities and traffic changes via the roundabouts being put in AT LEE RD. Don’t get me wrong, the roundabouts are clearly flawed, but not at saving lives and removing all of the HORRIBLE backups that we lived through prior. I am not qualified to know if the revisions they are doing will help, or how much. But, we are all qualified to look at the fatality statistics of that intersection, and to clearly see the awful backups onto hwy 23 (That created fatality risks on the hwy as well) has been solved by at least 90%. I would rather my daughter get into a fender bender than a fatality. Frankly, I would rather my daughter get into a fender bender than even 1 stranger die there. That is why I vote to keep the roundabouts with whatever improvements they make. Maybe they need to put signs up to say look left and describe what a yield sign means. I don’t mean to be the blah blah blah guy you describe who thinks he is such a great driver. I have no problem driving through there regularly, but am surprised that part of it is having to understand and watch for people who don’t understand what a yield sign is. It is unacceptable to have to explain that additional aspect to my daughter. Again, not saying roundabouts are great. Just at Lee rd., they are better than how it was before from a life saving and traffic movement standpoint. They put them there based on national statistics, and it has proven to be better at Lee rd., although flawed.

  4. Thank you, Jason. But by that logic, we should have roundabouts at every single intersection in Livingston County.

    I think the best parallel is the M-59/U.S. 23 intersection in Hartland. I don’t know what the daily traffic counts are, but I have to believe it’s comparable to Lee Road/U.S. 23. Incredibly busy, complex intersection, and traffic lights control everything. Has there been a fatal accident at the intersection in the last 10 years? (Just asking, I don’t know.)

  5. I don’t think anyone is saying that there are more accidents/fender benders with traffic lights. If you read the article with national statistics that I provided and read the other comments, including Todd’s where the police said that the lights previously had fatal accidents there and no deaths now with the roundabouts, lighted intersections have far more fatalities and serious injuries. About 80% more. More slow fender benders, or less accidents but more actual deaths? I choose life there. I respect that some find them annoying, but in the big picture, less deaths (none) by a longshot, and those who remember, no back ups on 96 trying to get off on the ramp… Keeping them, hopefully with improvements, is best. For saving the lives alone.

  6. For those who are saying that traffic lights would result in more accidents than roundabouts, the facts are actually on my side for once. According to this story, the most dangerous intersection in Livingston County in terms of injury accidents is … the roundabouts. From 2011-16, there were 40 accidents that resulted in injuries at the roundabouts, including 15 serious ones. That ranks it No. 1 as the worst intersection in the county.

    By contrast, the intersection of M-59 and U.S. 23 in Hartland – another hugely busy intersection that has traffic lights instead of roundabouts – didn’t even make the top five. So I still contend that traffic lights would be safer. Here’s the story:

    https://www.livingstondaily.com/story/news/local/community/livingston-county/2017/02/10/livingston-countys-worst-intersections-injury-crashes/97607006/

  7. That is nuts, Buddy. You’ll have traffic backups on 23 that’ll make 696 at RUSH hour look like a picnic. I’m concerned that the tweaking will slow down the flow.

  8. I know several older people that will not go to Green Oak shopping center because of the roundabout…Not Good…I’m not fan of them either, but I do make my way around
    them unscathed….My Vote???.. Traffic lights are much safer

  9. Geez Buddy, get into the 21st century! Smoother traffic flow, less waiting, less traffic back-ups, fewer
    serious accidents (no T-bones), less cost, less maintenance. Easy to maneuver if you are smart enough to know what you are doing. Drive slow and always yield to traffic on the left. Easy. The improvements will make it easier for those that after all these years STILL have not figured it out! I would avoid the malls MORE if there were no roundabouts. I’m sure the merchants know that and are advocates of roundabouts. I vote for MORE roundabouts!

  10. Buddy, I’m guessing that they don’t…..what instructor would take their life in their hands making a kid drive thru that mess? Hell, the mini circles in Howell are bad enough….you should see the roundabout that we have in Venice Florida…..these are drivers who can’t determine the brake pedal from the gas pedal, and now you put a roundabout in front of them?? It has been total chaos.

  11. Thanks for the reply, Steve. I’m guessing (and hoping) that every driver’s education place in Livingston County has the kids drive through those things a LOT.

  12. If the roundabouts at Lee and US 23 are keeping traffic flowing on 23, then I find them more helpful than harmful. My roundabout concern is where roundabouts keep a steady flow of traffic, making it more difficult for people to pull out onto roads from side streets. With no stop light to provide a brief break, people who are pulling out onto roads from places with limited sight distance have an extra difficult time. Winan’s Lake Road is a good example of this.

  13. Nice vent Buddy. However, have you studied the traffic impact on U.S. 23 of exiting traffic backing up into the travel lane (right lane) of both southbound and northbound US23? I haven’t, but the state has and I’ll bet that you will see that there will be many times when that backup would happen. Then the accidents would be much more damaging.

    It’s kind of weird that much of the rest of world operates quite well with mostly round-abouts and only a few lights.

    However, I do agree that the original design of these roundabouts is poor. The re-design looks to be much better.

    Of course, a required driver training program for all currently licensed drivers would be helpful also. So many drivers just do not know how to operate a vehicle in roundabouts (and other areas as well).

  14. Agreed. Perfectly stated on all counts. I will take 50 (or even an unlimited number of) fender benders, over even 1 death.

  15. Everybody said these things were a bad idea when they were first proposed….but that “trendy” thing was still going strong. If you’re sitting behind the board table and some guy hauls out the conceptual drawings of these things, it seems you can’t help yourself but fall for the spiel……..kind of like the Howell Streetscape project; another spectacular failure….but that’s another story……Yes, Buddy, you have it exactly right…these things have GOT to go.

  16. Certainly that is too many accidents and education is clearly needed. Maybe closing some lanes may help. It is however important to note that the studies on roundabouts nationwide, is they increase the number of fender bender accidents, but greatly decrease the number of serious and death related accidents.

  17. Buddy, I agree that the double roundabout is tricky. With that said, I have heard Green Oak police state that although there are accidents at the site, none are fatal. While in the roundabout, people are traveling at a low speed. Prior to the roundabouts there were fatal crashes at that light. Its not perfect and it needs tweaking, but I still vote for a roundabout over a light in this location. Oh, and yes, I’m a great driver in the roundabouts 😉

  18. I think they are great. It’s easy to forget the daily traffic back ups onto 23 before they were put in. If people understand how a yield sign works, everything is fine. Maybe people need to take a refresher driver’s ed course. Some of the budget should go toward education I guess. I am upset actually to hear that they are closing lanes, which will slow down traffic. I must be a great driver to be able to understand a yield sign, blah blah blah. I completely disagree with this article, blah blah blah.

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