Ralph Lausch hopes the new makeshift roundabout at the intersection of North Plum Street, East New Street and Park Avenue in Lancaster city slows down traffic.

But he took a pessimistic tone Thursday when talking about the roundabout that was installed the day before.

“I think it will create more problems than solutions,” the 69-year-old Lausch, who lives in the 700 block of North Plum Street, said.

He wasn’t the only one who questioned how effective the new roundabout will be.

Observations from the roundabout Wednesday afternoon showed that drivers on East New Street and Park Avenue fully stopped, even when they had the right of way, to allow vehicles driving on North Plum Street to pass before entering the roundabout themselves.

On Thursday morning, drivers seemed unsure when they entered the roundabout about who had right of way and which direction they were to drive.


What do residents think?

Neighborhood residents said they hope the roundabout works, but not all are convinced.

Brian Lesher, 53, said the city did a survey last year and many area residents wanted a traffic light installed at the intersection.

Like Lausch, he said he hopes the roundabout slows motorists down, but from what he observed while sitting on his porch in the 700 block of North Plum Wednesday evening, it has yet to work.

“They keep coming along (North Plum Street) very fast,” Lesher said.

Beth DeWalt, who lives in the 300 block of East New Street, thinks the new roundabout is a good idea.

Dewalt, 48, said something needed to be done about that intersection because of how dangerous it can be to cross.

“Anything that slows traffic down is a plus for the neighborhood,” she said.


What is the city saying?

On Thursday afternoon, Cindy McCormick, deputy director of engineering in the city’s Public Works department, said she received one positive phone call about the roundabout so far.

As for a traffic light, based on the volume of traffic going through the intersection, a traffic signal was not warranted, she said. About 4,500 motorists travel through the intersection daily, she previously said.

And although it was initially stated in a press release and a Facebook post that “left turns for trucks or buses may require them to drive over the painted roundabout, which is acceptable,” cones lining the painted circle in the middle of the intersection restricts it.

The cones will remain for several weeks as traffic is monitored and motorists seem to understand how to drive through the intersection, McCormick said.

“We may add a sign to the middle of the roundabout to clarify how to make a left turn, which is to stay to the right and circulate (three-quarters of the) way around the roundabout in a counterclockwise direction.”


What happens to drivers who get it wrong?

“We would take each incident on its merits,” said Lieutenant Bill Hickey, public information officer for the Lancaster city police department.

“Our Officers have discretion in issuing citations, written warnings and verbal reprimands in nearly every traffic stop. The new traffic pattern is no different.”

It will take time, McCormick said.

"We encourage everyone to proceed with caution through the intersection."