Started Wednesday, July 18, the three-phase project is the first of four roundabouts approved by county officials for the rural 11th Street corridor east of Tracy and west of Interstate 5, according to San Joaquin County Engineering Services Manager, Najee Zarif.
Roundabouts are planned for the 11th Street intersections with Banta, Bird and Lovely roads, Zarif said, with a fifth proposed for the Chrisman Road intersection.
According to Zarif, the objective of the new roundabouts is to increase traffic flow and efficiency.
“Studies indicate that they provide a reduction in accidents and accidents that cause injuries, such as fatalities,” he said. “(They are) proved to be safer than signalized intersections.”
The roundabout under construction at the eastern end of 11th Street, where Grant Line and Kasson roads meet, is expected to be completed Oct. 31. According to Zarif, it will be the first two-lane roundabout in San Joaquin County.
The cost of the project is about $2.8 million and is financed through county traffic impact mitigation fees, he said. The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors approved the roundabout plan in October 2005.
Compared with the traffic signals that dictate stop-and-go traffic flow on 11th Street, Zarif said the roundabout would let traffic flow without hesitation.
But during construction, traffic flow is liable to suffer.
According to project manager Nick Zwetsloot of Teichert Construction, the construction site will see big changes in traffic patterns beginning Monday, July 23.
On Monday, traffic will go from separate east- and westbound lanes near the intersection to two single lanes on the Grant Line Road side of the street. Lanes for traffic heading both east and west will proceed through the construction zone.
He said that traffic configuration will remain in place for six to eight weeks while construction crews work on the Kasson Road side of the project.
The second phase of the project will flip single-lane traffic to the Kasson Road side of 11th Street, Zwetsloot said. That portion of the project will also take six to eight weeks to finish.
The final phase of the roundabout will include construction of the concrete center of the intersection. Zwetsloot expects that to take three to four weeks.
Not everyone is happy about the addition to the rural Tracy roadway.
“I think it’s silly,” Tracy Mayor Brent Ives said. “When moving something that fast, that’s not the kind of place where one should put a roundabout. Doesn’t seem broken, so I don’t know why they’re trying to fix it. What a silly waste of money.”
The staff of Tracy Sign Inc., including employee Amy Brown, has a front-row seat for the roundabout, which is being built outside the business’ front door at 3771 W. 11th Street.
“I don’t know how it’s going to affect our business,” Brown said. “I think there’s going to be a lot more accidents. I used to work in Modesto, and they have one there, and if people slow down it will be fine.”
According to California Highway Patrol officer David Slate, the speed limit in the area is 55 mph, and any changes to that would be the county’s decision.
Slate said the intersection is considered a popular route for automobiles, tractor-trailers and farm vehicles.
According to CHP records, Slate said there were two accidents during the past six months at the intersection — one in May on Kasson Road, and one in March on Grant Line Road. Neither, he said, involved a fatality.
• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.