Rocklin turns the corner on roundabouts

By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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The traffic mess below the Arc de Triomphe in Paris has given roundabouts a bad name. But the Rocklin City Council hopes citizens will get behind their plans to convert intersections along Rocklin Road into the new concept of roundabouts. Engineers told council at last Tuesday’s meeting that they are confident their design can move more vehicles per hour at slower speeds and reduced air quality problems by reducing the start and stop cycle seen at signalized intersections. There is also a safety benefit. “Overall, there is a 75 percent reduction in traffic accidents at roundabouts versus signaled intersections, of those there is a 90 percent reduction in fatal or injury accidents,” said Omni-Means Engineering Consultant Ronald Boyle. Rocklin resident Richard Keller told the council his experience with roundabouts in other jurisdictions has been positive. “Roundabouts work really well,” Keller said. “It slows people down and it probably does stop a lot of accidents.” The redesign will impact land owners around the targeted intersections as right aways will be adjusted to change a square intersection into a circle and in some cases reduce lanes to accommodate traffic flow. One such land owner is Barber Bill Adrian who owns Rocklin Barber Shop at the corner of Meyers Street and Rocklin Road. “I was against what was going on in the first place,” Adrian said. “The problem was they were going to do away with parking on one side of my building.” Adrian said as soon as city engineers and representatives from Omni-Means met with him to discuss his issues, he changed his mind. “The city has been very sympathetic about the whole thing,” Adrian said. “They are doing away with parking on one side of my building, but in return, they are going to put parking on the opposite side of my building.” The council advised city staff to design and write a funding proposal to start a roundabout at Meyers and Rocklin Road, which could lead to others from the west side of I-80 to Grove Street. Councilmember Kathy Lund wants to add the roundabouts at Meyers and Grove streets to alleviate traffic around Rocklin Elementary School to keep kids safe. Adrian said when school is out in the afternoon traffic is backed up at Meyers. Boyle said that back-up could be eliminated with the new roundabout design. The city also has other projects in the works that could add a roundabout near Sierra College and at I-80 to ease congestion at the freeway after class. Council Member George Magnuson wanted a gradual change over to roundabouts to give citizens time to adjust to the culture shock. “I am skeptical,” Magnuson said. “I want to make sure people get use to them in town before we go all out on them.” Councilmember Peter Hill said the project could put Rocklin on the map. “This is a great project,” Hill said. “We could change our name. It could be Rocklin, the roundabout city of the world.”