Rounding up traffic
by TP staff
Nov 08, 2012 | 3295 views | 12 12 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Roundabout open for motorists
A sign tells drivers which lane to take as they approach the roundabout on 11th Street at Grant Line Road that was officially opened on Thursday, Nov. 8.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
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Officials opened the largest roundabout in the unincorporated areas of San Joaquin County on Thursday, Nov. 8, at 11th Street and Grant Line Road, in hopes of preventing accidents and easing the flow of traffic.

The roundabout — the second on a county roadway and the first with more than one lane — opened to drivers last week when the road striping was completed. The other county roundabout is near Woodbridge.

Najee Zarif, San Joaquin County Public Works engineering services manager, said the $2.7 million roundabout took 80 days to construct and has a 160-foot diameter. It replaces a four-way stoplight.

Watching cars navigate the traffic circle from the edge of 11th Street, Leroy Ornellas, who represents the 5th District on the county board of supervisors, was pleased with the results.

“While this was being talked about in meetings and in construction, I had a lot of people unhappy with this project. This is something new,” Ornellas said. “Now that it is done and in use, they are saying it’s not too bad.”

Tractor trailers and cars merged as two lanes of traffic circled through the roundabout.

“I think, in the end, this is going to work out pretty well,” Ornellas said. “Caution is required, but the traffic keeps flowing — it lets vehicles keep moving instead of sitting at the lights.”

Also watching the traffic Thursday, local resident Martha Kitchen, 84, was happy with the roundabout.

She has lived just east of the intersection since 1971 and has seen many crashes near her home.

“It’s going to useful,” she said. “There has been so much traffic on this highway and there have been so many accidents, they have to be mindful and careful on the road.”

While the roundabout appears confusing, Kitchen said she expected drivers to get used to it.

“Seems everyone is being careful as they are going through,” she said “It’s something that’s really necessary — just have to learn how to do it.

The main goal of the roundabout’s design, according to San Joaquin County Public Works Director Tom Gau, is avoiding “90-degree crashes” — when one car pulls out in front of another at an intersection and is struck broadside.

“Once you get comfortable with it, the traffic flows a lot better,” Gau said.

Traffic is expected to move quickly through the area with no signal lights to impede drivers.

“It’s a nice flow of traffic,” Gau said. “Roundabouts are a new concept in San Joaquin County. We’re getting away from the traditional intersection to free-flowing traffic. It gives more traffic volume with no cars stopped idling at traffic lights.”

Drought-resistant landscaping and LED street lighting are among the roundabout’s green features.

Three more roundabouts could replace signals on the stretch of 11th Street east of city limits, if funding allows.

• Contact Glenn Moore at 830-4252 or gmoore@tracypress.com

Comments
(12)
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shelly13
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November 11, 2012
Still don't like it. Don't care about the video. I'm going on what I have experienced so far. Every time I have gone through there so far, there has been a problem. Maybe we have more stupid people than these other countries who use them. LOL?

Yes I'm sure it is more safe than someone running a red light at 70mph. But I agree with Icare, more accidents, less injury. So I guess that's good????
ScottRAB
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November 09, 2012
Just slow down.

The FHWA has a video about modern roundabouts that is mostly accurate (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhHzly_6lWM ).

Modern roundabouts are the safest form of intersection in the world. Search www.iihs.org for FAQs and safety facts. The safety comes from the ‘slow and go’ operation instead of the ‘stop or go fast’ way a stop light works. The smaller size of the modern roundabout is what makes them safer and keeps speeds in the 20 mph range. This makes it much easier to avoid a crash or stop for pedestrians. It also means that if a crash happens the likelihood of injury is very low. Safety is the #1 reason there are over 2,400 modern roundabouts in the US today and many more on the way.

Slow and go also means less delay than a stop light or stop sign, especially the other 20 hours a day people aren’t driving to or from work. Average daily delay at a signal is around 12 seconds per car. At a modern roundabout average delay is less than five seconds.
Sneaky
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November 09, 2012
Thanks. Excellent video that dispels some of the more emotional notions below.
bmcwgrl
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November 09, 2012
I live out by it and it's a nightmare! People are clueless!! I sit and wait for people to decide to merge, longer than I ever sat at the lights!! What a waste of millions!
Icare!
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November 09, 2012
Has anyone noticed people do not stay in their lanes when passing through, they use the entire two lanes, sometimes even if you are right next to them. Being next to a truck is terrible, be careful. My guess is more accidents, less damage and injury but more need for the CHP to respond. A lot of money spent already and will add to the expense and use of emergency services and then higher insurance rates and so on and so on. Not too smart.
RedHotChilliPeppers
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November 08, 2012
We were in Patterson one day and went around both of them at least three times each. It was a weekend and no traffic. My children looooved it.

Disclaimer: I grew up navigating these in another country.

Disclaimer: drive safely, please dont try this with children and when other traffic is present, or not at all, in some cases.

Disclaimer: Excercise your better judgement, or in some cases just ask your spouse, and when in doubt, don't.
Sneaky
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November 08, 2012
I love round abouts. We need these things everywhere. They cut way down on time sitting at lights, save gas and are just safer. Its an all around win. Those who cant figure out how to drive through one simply dont belong on the road at all.
scottpro
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November 08, 2012
So when I enter the intersection, and due to the fog, fail to see the car in the roundabout, it will now strike me at 85 degrees and not 90. I feel safer just thinking about it!!
mommyofthree
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November 08, 2012
The completely waste of money roundabout has officially opened! :) Are they serious? See less accidents? People can barely drive straight let alone on a flipping roundabout....
RedHotChilliPeppers
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November 08, 2012
First time rhrough was a little confusing. Maybe a dotted line continuing in a circle. That is what I remember from other roundabouts. Hope it helps!

But the second time through was a lot easier for me. I like that we no longer have a long wait anymore.
Bird_Man
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November 08, 2012
It's actually pretty decent. I went through with traffic and had no issues. I'll give it a go in the fog. That may get a little dicey but if there is good lighting there then I don't think that will too much of an issue.

-BM
CarpenterNewton
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November 08, 2012
You have trucks, DVI/depot traffic, commuters, and farm equipment all intersecting here. Wait until the fog rolls in. Not good.


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