A Roundabout in Hermiston? Not so Fast

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The idea of placing a roundabout on South Highway 395 for traffic safety reasons drew enough opposition from the public and members of the Hermiston City Council Monday night that an amendment to the city’s Transportation System Plan (TSP) was put on hold.

The amendment to the plan calls for a traffic signal or roundabout near the entrance to Hermiston Foods. The Oregon Department of Transportation requested the city place the wording “or roundabout” to the amendment in case future development along South Highway 395 should warrant additional traffic control devices.

During a public hearing Monday night on the amendment, councilors and the public voiced opposition to the having a roundabout installed on Highway 395.

The city wants to add a traffic signal to the TSP, which serves as sort of a guide outlining potential transportation needs for the city in the future. ODOT says roundabouts make high-speed roadways safer than traffic signals because motorists can’t “run” a roundabout like they can with stop lights.

In a separate, but related issue, Ranch & Home plans to build a new 10,000-square-foot store on South Highway 395 near Hermiston Foods. Ranch & Home is not in favor of having a roundabout to control traffic near the property. And while there is not a need for either a traffic signal or roundabout to accommodate Ranch & Home, some changes will have to be made for the retailer because as of now there is only right in and right out ingress and egress to the property. Assistant Hermiston City Manager Mark Morgan said a simple stop sign would be enough with allowances for motorists to enter the property from either direction.

For now, Hermiston officials plan to meet with ODOT representatives in the coming days in an effort to get the roundabout taken out of the TSP. ODOT has the final say on whether it stays or goes. Morgan said he hopes ODOT will take into consideration the fact that placing a roundabout on South Highway 395 could have a negative impact on economic development in the area.