A regional council committee has approved a plan that could see two roundabouts replace intersections on Ottawa Street in about four years.

It is hoped the roundabouts would help alleviate some of the traffic tie-ups and improve safety at one of the most dangerous intersections in Waterloo Region.

The intersection of Ottawa Street and Homer Watson Boulevard has topped the list for most number of crashes in the region for years.

There have also been issues at the nearby intersection of Ottawa and Alpine Streets. Together the intersections saw 262 collisions in 2009.

Those are the target locations for two multi-lane roundabouts, with construction to begin in 2015 and expected to last about a year, at a cost of about $5.5 million.

Wayne Cheater, senior project manager, says "They will work well together, so with reduction in queues, simpler movement of traffic, less requirements for traffic to weave from lane to lane, we expect that traffic will flow better, there will be less collisions."

Regional Planner Bob Henderson says "The design of them forces drivers to look at pedestrians and pedestrians to look at drivers. That increases pedestrian safety and the design itself forces drivers to slow down, which makes it safer for everyone using a roundabout."

However, some are concerned about the safety of pedestrians, especially older residents, and cyclists at roundabouts.

Cyclist Evon Rosamond says "A lot of cyclists are going to be scared away from that neighbourhood, already are, you don't see too many of them there and even fewer pedestrians."

Given the approval of the project, the region's Planning and Works Committee is expected to consider adding trails nearby to make it easier for cyclists and pedestrians to get around.

But drivers may also still need some convincing. Sue Parker says "I know they are trying to make things more convenient and quicker for people but I don't think it's going to happen. Nobody knows how to use them properly."

Learning to use roundabouts

A new educational program on the use of roundabouts has also been launched by the region.

The program includes a series of four videos that feature members of the Kitchener Rangers and drive home the idea that "practice makes perfect."

The campaign will air on CTV and at the team's remaining games this season at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium.