Roundabout for Lafayette?

Lafayette Circulation Commission to discuss proposal for a new roundabout on the east end of Mt. Diablo Blvd. at this Monday’s meeting.

This Monday, the Lafayette Circulation Commission will discuss a proposed roundabout on Mt. Diablo Blvd.

The proposal for the roundabout is a part of the streetscape improvement project of the east end of Mt. Diablo Blvd. The roundabout would be located at Mount Diablo and Golden Gate Way, close to the sites of two new senior housing developments that the city council recently approved.

In a letter to the Circulation Commission and City Council, Ryan Leong, a representative for one of the developments, said that Merrill Gardens strongly supports the proposed roundabout.

City Manager Steve Falk took a short video of the intersection to show the crossing conditions. The video depicts the difficulty a pedestrian can expect while crossing the uncontrolled crosswalk and the speed at which cars drive down this part of Mt. Diablo, two issues the roundabout will address according to the proposal.

While roundabouts are not common in the area, a roundabout was proposed at the intersection of Saint Mary’s Rd. and Bollinger Canyon Rd. in 2008. Roundabouts have seen some success in Walnut Creek, Berkeley and Petaluma, according to the proposed streetscape staff report.

Some of the project would be funded by a Contra Costa County Transporation Authority grant that was given to Lafayette for $540,000. 

The Circulation Commission will provide feedback to the city council, which will see the proposal in the near future.

The public is invited to attend the meeting to share their opinions about the project on Monday July 9, at 7 p.m. at the

Sandman July 07, 2012 at 03:35 AM
I totally agree. Californians (or maybe US) are clueless when it comes to roundabouts. I grew up in a vast country where roundabouts are very common - I would say roundabouts are the equivalent of 4 way stop signs in the US - they are that common. Everytime I use the Orinda theatre roundabout - or the one on Hall/Donald, I am looking out for the driver who goes around the wrong direction or doesn't know about yielding to cars already in the roundabout.
lovelafayette July 07, 2012 at 02:24 PM
I am so sorry that your kids are loosing the battle against the cars. I was hit by a car (minor injuries) and 55 years later I still get anxious crossing the street, the damage to my psyche was more profound than the stitches on my chin. I find it incomprehensible that the 2 intersections with recent car/kid in crosswalk collisions have had no modifications to date. This is really about values: is it more important to the community to get "there" faster or encourage walking/pedestrian safety.We have a town where kids can and should walk and bike to school, protecting kids should be the #1 priority and any and all traffic calming measures should be implemented to that end. Put stop signs before the entries to the roundabouts to prevent entering at high speeds. The roundabouts slow everyone down, ticketing over time will slow locals but do nothing for those new to town. Glenside and Florence would benefit from stop lights, not semi-rural but safe for pedestrians. I don't find motor cycle cops to be semirural either. Traffic calming is a much better solution than police actions to stop speeding. I am in favor of roundabouts, stop signs, stop lights as the BEST way to reduce speeding and get kids and seniors across the street safely.
leighleigh July 07, 2012 at 02:46 PM
We Americans seem to know how to use roundabouts in NJ and Philly.
gavilan July 08, 2012 at 03:04 AM
Seems to be lots of comments along the lines of "conceptually great, but not here because Americans don't know how to drive through them." The way to get Americans used to roundabouts is to build more of them. As someone who absolutely despises traffic lights (and the proliferation of nanny-state, revenue-enhancing stop signs at every corner), more roundabouts would be a welcome change. The one in WC on Walnut is great and a welcome change to stopping yet again and waiting for one car to go the cross-direction. I work in the Bancroft/Ygnacio area and have 43 stop lights roundtrip to/from work. If I was in Italy, the tally could be as little as zero, no more than 3-4 in the same stretch, all due to roundabouts. The trip would be faster, less stressful, use less gas and (ironically) occur at slower speeds as roundabouts force people to slow (or even stop, briefly) rather than "blowing by" as mentioned above. So I urge those who are arguing against it to think just a bit progressively. There ARE better options to just more and more and more and more and more stoplights.
gavilan July 08, 2012 at 03:07 AM
Oh, and putting a stop sign in front of a roundabout is like putting a sweater on a fish. May as well just put in another bloody stop light.
Kevin Goto July 09, 2012 at 12:19 PM
Put in the same kind of pedestrian crosswalk as that in front of the Park hotel. Unless there is a surplus of money to be had.
bcrane1 July 09, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Based on the sketch of the roundabout with this article, I think it would contribute to the small town feel of Lafayette while slowing traffic in that stretch without resorting to a light. That particular intersection is not safe for pedestrians. It's one of the longest strectches of Mt. Diablo without a light, ecouraging higher speeds. The crosswalk indicates to pedestrians that it's an appropriate place to cross. A bad combo. I personally use the Brown Ave intersection when I cross. Roundabouts and bike/pedestrian amenities are strategies that have been adopted all over the country to make communities more livable, thus more desirable to live/work/spend time. Plus, in this instance, it would certainly improve the asthetics of the area.
Michael Gilson July 12, 2012 at 05:24 PM
There are quite a number of roundabouts in Truckee and they seem to work quite well in terms of calming traffic - and they are quite visually appealing. Given the two new senior projects that will launch soon on Mt. Diablo Blvd, I believe that the roundabout is essential.
Love Lafayette July 19, 2012 at 11:42 PM
First of all let us call this what it is – Single lane restriction point and roundabout at Golden Gate Way and Mt Diablo Blvd., and Medians on Mt. Diablo Blvd. from First Street to Brown Avenue. Let me also state that I like trees and plants, just got through planting seven trees at my house in Lafayette. First the crosswalk at Golden Gate Way and Mt. Diablo is dangerous and should not be there. There is a crosswalk at the stop light at Brown Avenue and another crosswalk at the stoplight at Second Street, both are much safer places to cross the street. The combination of the Medians and Roundabout will affect all businesses up and down this stretch of Mt. Diablo. The result will be more u-turns and less business for the merchants in this area. Sales Tax is the lifeblood of the City, and the resulting loss of revenue will affect all of us in Lafayette. Let’s take a look at the businesses at this end of town. This end of town allows drive thru (McDonalds, Jack in the Box, Caffeine), Automotive repair, and stores that require cars to pick up large quantities of merchandise. A car friendly area. This end of town is based on convenience of ingress and egress to each individual store or location. The current street set up with the turning lane down the center of the street allows for this convenience. The combination of the roundabout and the medians will affect all businesses in this area and the income that they generate through sales tax for the City.
gavilan July 20, 2012 at 12:21 AM
I would like to see the research to support these claims. I also would like a link to the actual proposal showing that median from First to Brown is there, without turn lanes. Also, is it an all-or-nothing? No medians = no roundabout? Hard to imagine someone would drive say, to Walnut Creek, to get a fat-burger from McD's because of this plan. Also hard to imagine that traffic planners aren't taking into consideration the egress/ingress needs of businesses within the scope of the plan. Again, I support this plan and would enjoy seeing roundabouts the entire length of Mt Diablo, wherever space and other traffic dynamics allow.
Steve J July 20, 2012 at 01:49 AM
Speed bumps.
KFrances July 20, 2012 at 02:08 AM
A Round-About in this location should be like the bottom of th list - really ? Another waste of money like the ABSURD 1 million dollar eyesore crosswalk across from Nations in Orinda - where is the money coming from anyways? Fed. grants aren't free money. Hasn't Lafayette done enough to make driving through town a nightmare !
Jose July 20, 2012 at 02:54 AM
Love Lafayette July 20, 2012 at 05:14 AM
Yes the roundabout and medians have to be hand in hand, this is grant money for traffic calming. This reminds me of the Moraga Road project where the city was given grant money to improve the traffic flow on Moraga Road. In order to get the grant the city had to change the flow of traffic on Plaza Way to only east bound, from the prior layout which allowed traffic to flow both directions on Plaza Way. Before customers, who were heading west on Mt. Diablo could make a u-turn at Moraga Road and access Plaza Way from Golden Gate Way. Now it is very difficult to park in front of these businesses unless you are going North on Moraga Road. Everyone should know what I am talking about here. Plaza Way had businesses like Handle Bar Toys, A1 Photo, and Freskos Realty. This does not sound like much of an impact, but the end result of this decision was that these businesses lost half of their business after this change, not to mention the business lost during construction - and this was during good economic times. All of these businesses closed their doors or moved after the change. Talk to your local merchant in this area and see what they think about the medians and roundabout. They were all at the Circulation Commision meeting speaking out against the project. Your kids and grandkids are going to have to pay for something that we do not need, and is not necessary. We do not need to spend $500,000 of our tax dollars on this project.
Love Lafayette July 20, 2012 at 05:21 AM
Guess you did not attend the Circulation Commision meeting regarding this project. You should really do your research before you comment. Have you ever owned a business where you have to reach the bottom line every month, and employees count on you to give them a job, and support their family. Yes no medians, no roundabout. Currently between first and second street there is only one midblock turn into Corporate Terrace heading east bound. Between second and Golden Gate Way there is only one breakthrough allowing traffic to come out of Blackwood Lane.
Regular Guy July 20, 2012 at 06:03 AM
When I see the words "traffic calming" I immediately translate them into "driver infuriating" or "congestion inducing". It's a euphemism for obstructing the normal flow of traffic, moving it onto other streets which will then need their own obstructions until congestion is maximized. Let's put this idea out of circulation.
gavilan July 20, 2012 at 03:43 PM
No I did not attend, which is why I asked questions, in addition to proffering my current position. Information, rather than opinion, carries the most weight when I am considering changing that position. And yes, I have owned a business, had to make payroll every month, been depended on by families. And I don't need a lecture on your standards for when I can comment, thanks anyway. (Links to the research and plan details I asked for would have been nice, though).
bcrane1 July 20, 2012 at 04:21 PM
There certainly were several business owners in attendance at the meeting (and many of them spoke out against this project), but to say "they were all at the Circulation Commision meeting..." is not accurate. Wine Thieves, They Grow So Fast, Bo's BBQ, Jack in the box, just to name a few, were not represented. I do not think it's OK to generalize that all the local business owners agree with those that attended.
bcrane1 July 20, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Roundabouts, in fact, relieve congestion. And in this case, would not move traffic onto other streets. There is no evidence that medians would necessitate a decrease in business for the local merchants. Certainly, the concerns are warranted for some, like Caffino. But, overall, his project would enhance that section of town by incorporating it asthetically into the downtown business district. Basically it would extend the small town atmosphere further east. The greater concern would be financing the ongoing maintenance. The initial construction would be grant money but the upkeep would need to come from the city or local businesses or a greenway conservancy. As a cyclist/pedestrian who uses that section of town almost daily, I'm in favor of this project (with some reservations regarding the maintenance cost issue). It certainly would enhance my daily life
Steve J July 20, 2012 at 05:21 PM
After thinking about this for a few minutes I wonder if the best solution would be to just remove the crosswalk. By that I mean remove the signs and the markings across the road. It's a short distance, either direction to a lighted intersection with a crosswalk signal. This solution would be much less expensive and less disruptive than a roundabout or a light.
bcrane1 July 20, 2012 at 06:33 PM
There was mention at the meeting that the crosswalk is there as part of a East Bay Regional Park trail. It continues the EBRP trail that passes by the gazebo and goes next to the Post Office Annex -- ultimately connecting the Lafayette-Moraga Trail to Briones Park. I don't claim to understand why the crosswalk at Brown can't serve that purpose but it seems there is an underlying reason why the Golden Gate crosswalk is there.
Love Lafayette July 20, 2012 at 06:59 PM
I am glad to see that we are starting to have a meaningful discussion about the project. If you were to read the article you would think we are only talking about a one lane roundabout. (which in my opinion needs to be studied more for traffic impact). I just do not want to see people avoid this end of town, thus reducing the traffic count for the businesses. I currently avoid the center of town due to how long it takes to travel Mt. Diablo from Mt. View to First Street by either taking Deer Hill Road to the north or Brook Street to the south. Another interesting fact is how many businesses have left the center of town in favor of the east end. Soccer Post comes to mind. The east end seems to hold onto there businesses a little better than does the center of town. Several vacancies in Happy Valley Center. Across the street where Soccer Post and Numero Uno were is vacant. Several are vacant in the Lafayette Town Center next to Panda Express. Clock Tower vacancies go begging. Red Wagon closed their doors. Not to mention many Merchants that struggle to make ends meet. Lets not disrupt something on the east end of town that seems to be working for the current mix of uses at this end. At very least lets not rush into something just to grab some money that needs to be repaid with our tax dollars.
Love Lafayette July 20, 2012 at 07:10 PM
In response to bcrane, yes not everyone was in attendance, but a large amount did show up at the Circulation Commision meeting that are directly affected by the medians and roundabout. (directly in front of their businesses) Boswells, Chameleon Consignment, McDonalds, Caffino, Acalanes Tire Service and Repair, Lafayette Tailoring, Cuts Unlimited, and several property owners in this area. All opposed to the medians and roundabout. Jack in the Box and Wine Thieves are just outside the proposed changes.
bcrane1 July 21, 2012 at 02:18 AM
So, you're saying that those in attendance represent the views of ALL the business owners in the affected area? That's presumptive.
bcrane1 July 21, 2012 at 02:29 AM
we are talking about a one lane roundabout and has been studied. It has a capacity that far exceeds current or future needs in Lafayette. A roundabout will not keep people out of that end of town. Soccer Post did not choose the east end over the downtown core. They lost their lease just like Numero Uno. There were plans for a high-end restaurant in that spot but I'm not sure the current status. Several businesses in the East End have gone out or relocated to the Downtown Core. Ware Deisgns comes to mind. The video rental store went out and it now the Soccer Post. This project is not something that would need to be repaid by tax dollars. It would be funded, in very large part, by grant money. An auto-body shop just closed shop in the east end. The car dealership closed a couple of years ago. The restaurant that is now Artisan has changed hands several times in the last few years. There was a antique home furnishings store that closed. The East End is not the bed of roses you're making it out to be.
Love Lafayette July 21, 2012 at 06:02 AM
Not at all, but give me one business that is in favor of the medians and roundabout.
Love Lafayette July 21, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Before I go on my morning walk through Lafayette, I thought I should be more specific. Give me one business in the area on Mt. Diablo between First Street and Brown Ave. that is in favor of the roundabout and medians. These are the businesses that will be most affected by not having the ease of ingress and egress from the businesses. It would be like saying that people that do not live on your street want a median that runs in front of your house because as they travel up your street they can enjoy the trees and plants, but now in order to make a lefthand turn into your driveway you must go up two blocks and make a u-turn to come back to your house. I hope all of the affected business owners show up at the August City Council meeting to voice their concerns over the proposed medians and roundabout. The Circulation Commision has no power to determine this matter the City Council can decide to ignore any recomendations the Circulation Commision makes.
gavilan July 21, 2012 at 03:17 PM
For someone about to go on a walk, you certainly seem to have a car-centric point of view. Is it possible that this project might actually result in more people being more willing to walk this area than now, as we see in the vast differences in number of people on the street on the west end (median, ped-friendly, aesthetically pleasing) vs. east end (not) now? More people may well equal more, not less business. I am reminded of the Chinatown Association of Business Owners who vehemently fought the plan to not replace the Embarcadero freeway after the earthquake in '89, saying the lack of easy car access to Chinatown would hurt their businesses. Fortunately for everyone, including those who fought it, a plan won with a more progressive approach to urban spaces, one that shifted the balance between people/bikes/aesthetics and cars away from the failed 1950-60's mentality of "cars rule." The result is a fantastic space (the 'new' Embarcadero) that has spawned all sorts of seen and unforeseen cascading improvements, like the Ferry Building rehab, art spaces like Pier 24, (the list is much, much longer) even the ballpark, from which I walked back from a game along that beautiful stretch of waterfront just last Saturday night, a stretch that I wouldn't of gone near before. I will say that one thing this discussion has done is encouraged me to go to the August City Council Meeting and I urge others to do the same.
bcrane1 July 22, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Someone who gets it, thanks gavilan. the City Council absolutely can decide to ignore or embrace the Circulation Commission recommendations. And in this situation, they would have to do both, as the Circ Comm was not unanimous. At least two commissioners were against the proposal and two others had strong reservations despite lukewarm support for it. And why do these businesses need such immediate ingress and egress. As a society, are we so entitled that making a u-turn to get to our destination in a business corridor is too much. If I'm going to Bo's BBQ, I'd be willing to make a u-turn at Brown. Same for the auto-body, Boswell's, etc. There's a difference between a business corridor and a residential neighborhood. Making this section of Lafayette more inviting to cyclists and pedestrians would be a benefit to the entire community. Plus, we have to keep in mind the new housing developments. The business/commercial landscape in that area will likely change. More restaurants for example. The more people walking, cycling in an area makes it safer for peds/cyclists in addition to making it a more vibrant neighborhood. And just a reminder for anyone planning on attending the City Council meeting for this issue, make sure it's on the agenda before showing up. It's possible this item won't get on the August agenda.
Lacey Deal August 13, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Exactly! Moraga Blvd is becoming a freeway with all the traffic to the schools trying to bypass the congestion through town. This will ruin that little neighborhood.


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