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 firstname.lastname@example.org