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A Roundabout in Downtown Roseville? Council to Vote on Designs Wednesday

If approved, project plans would move forward.

Wednesday, Roseville city public works officials are expected to round out their recommendations for a city-planned roundabout in the center of town.

City Council members are scheduled to vote on whether to approve proposed design plans for a 135-foot in diameter traffic circle at 7 p.m., March 20 in Council Chambers, 311 Vernon St. 

Hailed as a solution for easing traffic in and out of the Washington "Seawall" Underpass, city staff contend the roundabout would improve traffic flows and safety, while creating a new city landmark. However, opponents have argued the roundabout could be an eyesore as well as a traffic nightmare.

City Public Works Director Rhon Herndon said he understands some of the public’s apprehension about the project.

“It’s a lack of familiarity with driving roundabouts,” said Herndon. “Because we don’t have that many here. Unlike Europe where they are as popular as traffic signals."

If a roundabout isn't built, Herndon's team forecasts traffic at the intersection would double by 2025. Currently, up to 21,000 cars a day travel at the site, he said.

"If we left a traffic signal there until 2025 there would be an average delay of 55 seconds per vehicle and that would be level of service E," said Herndon, with A being the best level of service. "The average delay for a roundabout would be 24 seconds per vehicle or less than half of what it would be with a signal."

Safety proponents of roundabouts site fewer occurrence of fast-moving broadside accidents. They claim such accidents are more likely at traditional traffic-signal intersections.

Specifically, Herndon sites a 2000 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study that reported a 39 percent decrease in the severity of accidents and 76 percent decrease in injury accidents along streets where traffic circles replaced traditional signal intersections. 

Roseville's planned roundabout project is part of the city’s planned overall Oak Street Improvement, Herndon said.

In May 2012, the City Council voted to allocate federal funds to build the roundabout, specifically proposed to be located at the Washington Boulevard and Oak Street intersection.

While the total cost of the main project is $2.3 million, the roundabout itself is expected to cost $1.6 million, according to Herndon. Costs would cover new pavement, concrete curbs, gutters, sidewalks, retaining walls and utility relocations.

Varying from a one-lane roundabout to a two-lane roundabout, it’s average diameter is 135 feet, according to Zach Siviglia, with Mark Thomas & Company Inc., the project's design consultants hired by city officials.  

Plans for the middle of the roundabout would include landscaping like ornamental trees, shrubs and other elements, according to Siviglia.

It isn't only Roseville residents who have been apprehensive about having large traffic circles. In Chico, for example, reaction was initially mixed when the city in 2009 built a 160-foot in diameter roundabout on Manzanita Avenue where East Avenue and Wildwood Drive meet. 

"Some people don’t like them, but in general (the city's three roundabouts) received a pretty good welcoming," said Brian Mickelson, Chico traffic engineer.

Mickelson warned against building roundabouts at intersections with unbalanced traffic flow lacks. 

"If you have a roadway where there is a lot of traffic in one direction, for example, one main line and a side street that has a small demand, then the side street is compromised and drivers can’t get into the roundabout easily," said Mickelson.  

In Roseville, reaction varied from a quick sampling of shoppers and workers at The Fountains in Roseville, where there are three smaller one-lane roundabouts.

Renee Bower, of Sun Cal Real Estate Group with offices the outdoor mall, said she doesn't "love" them, but understands the "need" for them.

“Sometimes it’s a little confusing for older folks," said Bower. "When they are driving by themselves they get confused especially when they are turning toward traffic to make a left turn....you (can) get to that point and you only have a split second to think about it."

For Fountains’ shopper Tara White, the new traffic roundabout comes as good news.  

“I have been very blessed to have been to Europe and they are all over the place,” said White. “I think Americans just need to get used to them.”

“I think they are a lot safer as long as they are used properly,” said White. “You just go around again if you miss (the exit).”

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Karin Fulton March 18, 2013 at 05:04 PM
hopefully at some point people will figure them out. I have no trouble but I've seen many who can't seem to figure them out. I don't mind them. I think that they help.
ScottRAB March 18, 2013 at 09:52 PM
Unbalanced traffic flow can mess up most intersections that are not designed properly. The solution at a signal or modern roundabout is the same, the addition of lanes at the intersection. Any time a left turn (or U-turn) on the mainline occurs, the side street will get a gap since the turning vehicle is in the circular roadway and has the right of way over the opposing flow entering traffic.
Bob March 19, 2013 at 07:01 AM
People tend to avoid things they find to be a pain and not a lot of people like them in Sacramento. But government will do what it wants since they don't have to reverse their actions at their own costs if people prevail. Make politicians personally responsible for their acts that the public dislikes and you might not find them so eager to change things.
Tom Martin March 19, 2013 at 03:18 PM
"If a roundabout isn't built, Herndon's team forecasts traffic at the intersection would double by 2025." Does that mean it won't double by 2025 because most people are going to avoid the area? Not what the city had in mind one would think.
ScottRAB March 19, 2013 at 07:25 PM
Implying that we are not the government? We elect people to run things so we don't have to study the subjects and can get on with our lives. If you don't like the decisions or the process, vote them out. Of course, you'll need to convince a majority of the voters that you're right. But it appears you don't really have any solid arguments for anything else.
Dale Watkins March 19, 2013 at 08:04 PM
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. It ain't broke now and won't be broke if traffic increases. Surely there are better things the city can spend it's money on.
Muriel Pirkle March 19, 2013 at 10:44 PM
This is one of those thing that the city of Roseville thinks is a good idea, like planting trees on Vernon Street. Looks good but now there is no place to park to go shopping. So everyone goes to another town to shop where they can park and not spend their time driving around and around trying to find a place to park.
Ng March 20, 2013 at 05:44 AM
If is confusing for older folks they shouldn't drive anymore. this is USA we need modern streets, PERIOD.
Jim Guiles March 20, 2013 at 08:48 PM
A well designed roundabout with the proper room to do it works well. I have driven in the UK and they are fabulous. You can turn or continue and not worry about stop signs (usually). I would vote YES if properly done. Unfortunately, in our area there are some that are installes as an afterthought and do not work well.
Jim Guiles March 20, 2013 at 09:10 PM
How old is OLD? I'm retired and operate my motorcycle and cars very well in any traffic.
Ng March 20, 2013 at 10:47 PM
Consider the case of George Russell Weller, an 86-year-old Los Angeles driver who suffered from arthritis, nausea as a side-effect of medication, and reduced mobility from a hip replacement. Weller’s car struck another car then accelerated around a road closure sign, crashed through wooden sawhorses, and plowed through a busy marketplace crowd, killing 10 people and injuring another 63. Weller told investigators he had accidentally placed his foot on the accelerator pedal instead of the brake.
Jim Guiles March 20, 2013 at 11:47 PM
And has what to do with a roundabout? Anyone of any age can encounter problems with Rx drugs.

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