Marion puts up billboards to help people navigate their roundabouts

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MARION, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) - Months after Marion completed its roundabouts construction, its put up two billboards to warn drivers who are having trouble navigating them.

Businesses and people in the area say they have seen crashes and quite a few close calls at the new roundabouts.

The two roundabouts along Seventh Avenue in Marion are less than a year old. One is at Seventh Street, the other at 26th street.

The city did not have to pay for one of the billboards, but the other cost over $600.The signs read “roundabouts ahead,” “slow down,” “stay in your lane,” and “yield to the left.” Some drivers say they don’t notice the signs while driving.

Danielle Tiegen says, "I've seen it, but really I've only saw it one time and I've come every day that way. So I'm not noticing it, I don't know who else has noticed it."

The billboards were put up late last week next to the bridge on Marion Boulevard and just off highway 13 coming into town, letting people know the roundabouts are coming.

Assistant City Engineer Michael Barkalow says, "We get comments on our social media that we need to educate those out of town drivers so that they're staying in the right lane, [and] they're following directions."

Some people in Marion are still not fans of the roundabout, but city officials say it's safer than an intersection with stop lights.

Marion Police reported 7 crashes in 10 months last year before the 7th Avenue and 7th street roundabout opened. In nearly 5 months since, 4 crashes. That's about an equal pace. Police say the difference in a roundabout is those crashes are less severe.

Sgt. Mike Rozek from the Marion Police Department says, "There's only been one that's been a side swipe or a t-bone accident where it involved two cars. The other three were single vehicle either they lost control or hit a sign."

Rebecca Spilger has driven the roundabouts. She says people already ignore instructional signs and thinks the billboard won't steer them the right way.

She adds, “I don't think people notice billboards anymore. I think that's kinda old fashioned"

Police say there has been no accidents at the 7th and 26th roundabout since it opened. The billboards will stay up for about a month.