Animation depicts Hibbing’s new Beltline roundabout

Screenshot from animation depicting new Highway 169 roundabout in Hibbing, Minnesota.

This summer, the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Iron Range city of Hibbing will install a two-lane roundabout at the intersection of Highways 169 and 37. News of this change has already caused many Range residents to go, “blurggle, blurggle, a-fuff-fuff-fuff!”

This is one of Hibbing’s busiest intersections. I spend a portion of most mornings and afternoons sitting at this red light. Fifty other people and I idle in place watching a near-empty intersection because they hired a fascist semaphore engineer years ago.

So a roundabout could actually work quite well here. That is, so long as people are willing to learn how to use a roundabout correctly.

The Hibbing Public Library shared a video animation of how the new Highway 169 roundabout will look once in service:

The problem I have is that the little animated drivers in the little animated vehicle are doing it all wrong. No one is yielding properly. At times traffic comes to a full stop. I’m left wondering if the goal was to show how Hibbing drivers will actually use the roundabout for the first 5-9 years.

Incidentally, MNDOT and the city of Hibbing seem to anticipate these fears in this “Myths and Facts about Roundabouts” video:

Personally, I am glad that the video doesn’t show the Griswold family locked in a perpetual roundabout spiral:

Because, according to the infuriated id of the masses, that’s a possibility.

Anyway, put me down as pro-roundabout. It’ll be fine, even better … eventually. Yet we would be wise to brace for the outrage as stubborn drivers sharpen their rage daggers, and perhaps as someone goes Baha over the median within the first couple weeks.

Patience will win out in time.

Such are the hazards of progress.


  1. There’s no snow on those highways.

  2. As someone born in Hibbing who now lives where there are roundabouts, this is going to be so bad. That intersection is completely NOT the type they work well at. The state needs to suck it up and do an overpass. They can even make it a T one and get rid of the little road part to jack and dons or whatever it is called now.

  3. Crashes increase after roundabouts are prepare yourselves.

  4. Yes, now I can avoid Hibbing at all costs….See ya, bye bye….I hope this is NOT what they are going for! I will NOT be going through that intersection.

  5. By not keeping the lights in place this roundabout will allow for more human error and more crashes! With lights there is more control of knowing when to stop and go. Also, it was easier to know who was more at fault when accidents happen. Spending 3 Plus Million Dollars on this is a Total Waste especially in a time when money is tight. But Like I say, “Common Sense Dead and Dumb People Complicate Things.” If it’s not broke don’t fix it! Understand or do I need to keep repeating myself????

  6. The cartoons are merging correctly. Unlike Europe, in roundabouts in the USA the vehicles in the circle have the right of way over vehicles entering. If they sign it right and people pay attention it will work. The big problems are teaching Rangers new tricks, the visions of trucks taking both lanes and climbing up on the island, and all those pedestrian overpasses on curves frosting up. Finding a place to put the snow will be a problem too.

  7. OMG small world.

    First that video was made after Rochester MN screwed up a simple roundabout decision at 16th street and Mayowood Road. I know I was one of the people that voted for the roundabout with the engineers recommendation.

    2nd, I lived in Hibbing for many years and a roundabout is a perfect solution, safer, lower operating costs. An overpass would be a huge waste of money on a city that is not likely to ever see growth.

  8. Looks incredibly overbuilt. Lord have mercy on any pedestrian who finds themselves in its vicinity.

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