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Roundabouts in Manteca’s future

Will reduce traffic signal proliferation

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Roundabouts in Manteca’s future

One of the roundabouts in the Tesoro neighborhood in South Manteca that comes off Van Ryn Avenue and connects to a street that runs by a school site and park.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED February 5, 2010 3:11 a.m.

QUESTION: What can slow down traffic yet keep it moving, ease air pollution, eliminate the need for electricity, reduce future municipal maintenance costs, and help keep new housing costs down?

ANSWER: Roundabouts.

And these aren’t your garden-style roundabouts you’ll find in the Tesoro neighborhood near where streets intersect by the park and future school site. Nor is it the grandiose one-acre roundabout in the neighborhood northeast of Woodward Avenue and South Main Street with a mini-park in the middle.

While the Manteca City Council Tuesday night quickly shot down a staff solution to spend $100,000 on a roundabout to slow traffic at Powers Avenue and Hutchings Street near Lincoln School in Central Manteca, you will be seeing more roundabouts as the city grows.

They won’t, however, be on the taxpayer’s dime. Instead they will be required of developers as part of conditions for new subdivisions.

They are being looked at for use on the envisioned extension of McKinley Avenue as it swings to the east to hook-up with the new alignment of the Austin Road interchange.

McKinley Avenue from where it would come off a future interchange at the highway 120 Bypass and reconnect with the proposed Austin Road interchange further to the south on Highway 99 than its present location is being designed as an expressway.

That means no driveway or commercial access. It also would reduce the number of intersecting streets meaning only collectors that carry vehicle loads similar to Powers Avenue, Mission Ridge Drive or center Street would connect with McKinley Avenue.

At those intersections, instead of having traffic signals, large roundabouts may be put into play.

During the recent council workshop, staff discussed the roundabout strategy.

It would effectively reduce the cost to developers who – instead of paying $500,000 for signals - could spend a third of that for a roundabout. That, in turn, would reduce the cost per home to prepare finished lots for building.

The city wouldn’t be saddled with long-term traffic signal, maintenance or ongoing power costs. And even maintaining any landscaping or design work in the roundabout would be covered by landscape and lighting maintenance districts with the cost borne by nearby property owners and not the city.

Modesto has put in a large roundabout with two lanes that go around the circle near a newer high school campus in the eastern part of that city. Ripon also has a larger roundabout near City Hall.

Roundabouts also help ease air pollution by reducing the potential for stop and go vehicle movements that generate a great deal more air pollution than vehicles that are moving. Such a goal is part of Manteca’s general plan -the official blueprint for municipal growth. It also meets policy objectives that the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District is mandating in terms of cities working to reduce vehicle pollution by finding ways to make traffic flow smoother and without backups.

Manteca is also going forward with a policy to require roundabouts on the edges of parks where streets intersect or near school sites in future developments. Tesoro – located in the triangle created by Van Ryn Avenue, Woodward Avenue and Atherton Drive – south of the Highly 120 Bypass was the first. The roundabouts are already in place.

The approval of 863more homes south of the Woodward Park neighborhood in the Evans Estates and Pillsbury Estates projects included the requirement that roundabouts be used a traffic calming devices at the edge of parks where streets intersect.

The maintenance of the roundabout landscaping as well as the park will be picked up by property owners within the neighborhood and not municipal taxpayers.

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