It has been announced that the Indiana Department of Transportation has reversed course on recommendations as to the construction of roundabouts within Hamilton County. In part due to the lobbying efforts from the mayors of Carmel and Westfield, (INDOT) has agreed to join with the local officials in furthering the path to the construction of new roundabouts in the congested traffic corridor along Highway 31 within Hamilton County and possibly beyond in the future.
The initial hesitancy for the construction from state transportation officials concerned heavy traffic congestion. Initially it was asserted that more trafficked roadways would not be as conducive to roundabouts as the others constructed within less traveled roadways of Indiana. Not to be deterred, the Mayor of Carmel it is believed did some heavy lobbying for the cause of his pet project roundabout construction. Carmel Indiana is now home to more roundabouts than anywhere in the United States. Mayor Jim Brainard is proud to tout his leadership promoting the cause of this newly imported traffic tool from Europe in any forum that will allow. Just what he had promised state officials in his efforts to successfully reverse their decision to allow the roundabouts is unclear. However, if past is prologue, it can be speculated that increased traffic enforcement under the guise of safety through this new road construction was promoted to ease opponents concerns.
Mayor Brainard formerly promoted increased law enforcement as a benefit of the increased taxes to those within his county he sought to annex into the Carmel city limits. It can logically be suggested that increased revenue through traffic enforcement within these more congested roundabouts will be a secondary internal benefit Brainard hopes to capitalize on.
As I had first commented months ago, I believed that annexation of unincorporated areas of Hamilton County would serve little benefit to those being annexed apart from facing the prospect of being ticketed more frequently for traffic violations. As the areas within this part of the state affected did not suffer from a crime problem of any urgent measure, the net motivation of the annexation was I believe to be the double benefit to the city of increased revenue from higher taxes as well as fines and costs related to the increase in law enforcement. Unless these communities subject to annexation welcomed an increased law enforcement presence with which to hand out traffic violations to community residents, the rise in tax revenue has served little direct benefit to those then affected.
With the same premise I would suggest that traffic violations and the increased revenue they bring to local municipalities will be an insidious bi product of the use of roundabouts within Hamilton County and beyond. To the north in Valparaiso and contemplated within Marion County, the incubator of Hamilton County has spawned proposals throughout the state for the new construction of roundabouts. While there is no doubt that the use of roundabouts is an often favored and productive means with which to reduce traffic flow and congestion, let there be no mistake as to the hazards not related to accidents themselves.
With each new construction project introduced, I would advise that motorists be especially mindful of the presence of traffic enforcement. Ostensibly, the heightened presence of traffic cops will be rationalized in the name of public safety as people get familiarized with the recently inaugurated traffic flow caused by roundabouts. However, let there be no mistake, for municipalities seeking the secondary benefit of revenue flowing from the heightened prospect for traffic violations within these new construction sectors, the goal of increased citations for traffic violations and the prized dui arrest may inevitably follow.
To what extent the mayor “educated” state officials as to these secondary revenue benefits of his favored mode of road construction is open to speculation. The fact that state officials have reversed course to now favor the roundabouts presently favored within certain communities makes it incumbent upon all drivers to learn not only how to navigate such roadways but how to avoid traffic detention as well.