Roundabout Talks Go 'Round and 'Round In Lafayette

The Lafayette planning commission discussed the much-talked about Lafayette roundabout Monday night. Next step -- the city council.


As , the city of Lafayette is proposing medians along the east end Mt. Diablo Boulevard, along with a controversial roundabout. City of Lafayette Engineer Tony Coe presented the project to the planning commission Monday night, and while the planning commission made no decisions, everyone had something to say about it.

Coe’s presentation explained that the project would make the area more aesthetically pleasing with new landscape, increase pedestrian safety and slow down cars on the east end of Mt. Diablo.

Responding to public feedback from previous meetings, Coe explained that changes had been made to the medians so that gaps in the medians were strategically located, allowing left turns into business driveways along the road.

While most of the planning commission seemed to be in favor of the new alternate median plan, the roundabout became a point of contention.

The roundabout would be located on Mt. Diablo Blvd. at Golden Gate Way, where two senior housing developments were recently approved.

Members of the public discussed different issues with the roundabout. Lynn Hidden of Lafayette said she was concerned about the ability of big trucks to make it through the traffic calming device. Coe, however, said that the city had analyzed the issue, and that a 69 foot vehicle would be able to make it without problem.

Others expressed concerned that the roundabout would slow traffic on Mt. Diablo Blvd., further congesting downtown.

Some members of the public and commissioners questioned the need for the roundabout in the first place, saying that traffic did not seem to be a major problem in the area, and that there were never many pedestrians wishing to cross the street there.  

While the majority of the planning commission approved of the medians, the commission was split on the roundabout, with multiple commissioners still somewhere in the middle, seeing both pros and cons with the plan.

Commissioner Patricia Curtin-Tinely said she was concerned about bicycle safety and that the roundabout might not be able to accommodate the amount of traffic the road sees everyday.

On the other side, commissioner Karen Maggio supported the roundabout, calling the current east end of town a “1950’s, 1960’s auto-centric design.”

“I think this roundabout offers a much more gracious alternative to what we currently have,” Maggio said.  

The planning commissioners’ comments will be forwarded to the city council. The city council will see the project at their next meeting on Monday, August 13. 

J.D. O'Connor (Editor) August 07, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Morning, Hal... just thank your lucky stars Alamo is considering speed bumps -- we've never seen a dustup such as the one we had over those contraptions!
ScottRAB August 07, 2012 at 10:23 PM
If you want to see the difference between a traffic circle, a rotary (UK roundabout) and a modern roundabout, search www.k-state.edu to see pictures. 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, 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. Signals take an hour of demand and restrict it to a half hour, at best only half the traffic gets to go at any one time. At a modern roundabout four drivers entering from four directions can all enter at the same time. Don’t try that with a signalized intersection.
c5 August 07, 2012 at 10:33 PM
we just got back from scotland where i drove 500 miles in 5 days, all on the wrong side of the road no less. we encountered hundreds of roundabouts, and i can say that at least over the pond they seem to work very well. i think lafayette should try this one to see how it works out.
Eliz August 08, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Waste of money. Can we fix existing roads first?
Maury Stern August 08, 2012 at 04:27 PM
We have just returned from Bend, Oregon where they use modern roundabouts and the traffic flow is very easy in them. They are much quicker than conventional signals. Maury Stern
J.D. O'Connor (Editor) August 08, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Thanks, Maury... welcome back! Everyone returning from cool vacation spots, it seems. There are also some roundabouts in use on the Saint Mary's College campus and everyone seems to navigate through them just fine.
Lacey Deal August 13, 2012 at 10:12 PM
This will result in more traffic trying to get around the congestion downtown by driving on Moraga Blvd. This tiny residential street already bears the brunt of parents trying to drive their kids to school without dealing with the congestion on Mt. Diablo and Moraga Rd. This is a waste of money.
bcrane1 August 15, 2012 at 04:49 PM
What should be mentioned is that the vast majority of the money for construction would be grant money-- money that could not be used to fix our roads. It's not a one or the other situation. Fixing roads needs to be done with city funds (taxes, bonds, budget item, etc). This traffic calming project would be funded with state/federal grant money designated for these types of projects in different municipalities. The ongoing maintenance is a different story. That would need to funded locally (from some Lafayette originated source). I always find it interesting that people ignore facts, research and actual experience in protesting forward looking projects. The numbers have been crunched, specifications researched and the experience of other cities have been investigated. Overwhelmingly, roundabouts and medians are good for communities. In this specific situation, large trucks and emergency vehicles have been accomodated for. This roundabout is not intended to reduce trafffic but to calm it in that area. That section of Mt. Diablo Blvd has projects approved that will add many pedestrians to the street. Pedestrians are good for business. Traffic safety is good for pedestrians. This project makes sense for the future of Lafayette.


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