Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sustainable Roundabout Manages Stormwater and Traffic

Have you ever thought that the space in the centre of roundabouts could serve a greater purpose than merely managing traffic?

In Uptown Normal, Illinois, Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects completed work on The Circle, a multi-functional, sustainable roundabout that cleanses and re-circulates stormwater into a public fountain, improves traffic circulation at a busy five-street intersection, and provides community green space. The site’s stormwater management system features innovative elements like filtration bogs, ultra violet sanitizers, and a 'structural cell system'.

The Circle plaza sits adjacent to the town’s planned multi-modal transportation center, which will connect residents to bus, train, or bike routes.

Peter Schaudt, partner of Hoerr Schaudt, said: “The heart of Normal’s new downtown is a model of environmental awareness that addresses two key challenges in American urbanism today: responsible use of water and a reduced dependence on automobiles. We will see the need for spaces that combine creative infrastructure with public space increase dramatically in the next decade.”

Excess runoff not captured by this sytem is funneled to a 76,000 gallon underground cistern, created from abandoned underground storm sewer infrastructure. Water in the cistern will be used to irrigate the surrounding street trees.

The new roundabout should reduce traffic accidents. According to Federal Highway Administration, installing roundabouts results in 90 percent reduction in fatalities, 76 percent reduction in injury accidents, 75 percent fewer pedestrian and vehicular conflict points, and reduction in overall pedestrian injury. Hoerr Schmidt says roundabouts also help reduce idling, which in turn helps lower local air pollution.

The new green space offered in the middle of the roundabout also adds valuable community space. The center lawn is somewhat insulated from car noise. “The natural sounds of the flowing water help to mitigate the sounds of ongoing traffic.”

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