Cities Overlook This Money Saving, Climate Friendly Traffic Tool

Traffic circles are about more than reducing accident fatalities, according to the mayor of Carmel, Indiana.
Image: Flickr

Find out what the city of Carmel, Ind., knows about the significant operating cost savings and vehicle emissions reductions traffic circles offer.

In a recent conversation with CityLab, Jim Brainard, the mayor of Carmel, Ind., the city with the most traffic circles in the United States, reveals why a “roundabout obsession” is about more than just taking the rage out of the road.

It’s also about the beau coup bucks the city and its drivers save, along with greenhouse gas reductions.

CityLab’s John Metcalfe asked, “What do you think is their most unheralded benefit?”

The thing most people don’t know is how much money is saved by converting traffic signals into roundabouts. Our city engineer’s office has found that on average, roundabouts in Carmel have cost $250,000 less to build than signalized intersections and they are much less expensive to maintain than signalized intersections, saving our taxpayers $5,000 per intersection per year in electricity costs,” answered Brainard.

The mayor of ‘Roundabout City, USA’ also noted that by eliminating traffic jams with traffic circles, the drivers in Carmel are saving about $4.9 million per year with the city’s 102 roundabouts, based on federal highway studies that say each one saves about 24,000 gallons of gas per year.

So, Carmel’s plethora of traffic circles also reduces the city’s vehicular emissions and improves its air quality.

Brainard said the city is planning to construct 28 more traffic circles in 2017, with more planned for 2018.

Read the full Q&A on CityLab’s website to learn more about Carmel’s roundabouts experience.

Download a roundabout explanatory brochure from the Michiana Area Council of Governments.


About the author

Andrea Fox

Andrea Fox

Andrea Fox is Editor of and Senior Editor at Praetorian Digital. She is based in Massachusetts.