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Manteca may calm traffic in roundabout way
One of Mantecas three existing roundabouts can be found at Andora Drive and Tesoro Drive between Woodward Avenue and Tesoro Drive. - photo by HIME ROMERO

More and more motorists in Manteca will start going around in circles in a bid to slow traffic as well as keep traffic moving.

Roundabouts - or traffic circles - are now viewed by the city as a way of addressing four major traffic concerns including how to:

• improve the safety of pedestrians especially crossing at intersections adjacent to neighborhood parks and schools.

• keep traffic moving and avoid costly traffic signals where collector streets meet and - in some cases - where an arterial and collector street cross.

• reduce traffic speed.

• improve air quality by eliminating stop signs which in turn reduces increased air pollution created by stop and go movements.

Manteca already has three roundabouts located within a block north of the Woodward Avenue corridor east of South Main Street. Two are at the edge of Tesoro Park and a future elementary school site while the other is much larger with an acre park in the middle.

Seven more are already approved to go on or near Woodward Avenue as part of the 1,650-home Trails at Manteca moving toward construction on the western end of Woodward Avenue. Two of the seven cul-de-sacs will be at access streets intersection with Woodward Avenue.

Virtually every new neighborhood in the planning process has a requirement for roundabouts either adjacent to future schools or parks or deployed in a manner to slow traffic on the main access street. All roundabouts built in new neighborhoods as a condition of development are landscaped

They are also being pondered for use at some intersections on the proposed McKinley Expressway. The expressway will eventually be Manteca’s southern most thoroughfare swinging from the current terminus of McKinley Avenue at Woodward Avenue in southwest Manteca and eventually to a new interchange on Highway 99 midway between Ripon and Manteca

The three roundabouts already in place reflect two different strategies. The ones in the Tesoro neighborhood are designed to slow traffic down near schools and parks that have heavy foot traffic. The acre roundabout on Buena Vista Drive is designed to discourage future through traffic from the between Atherton Drive and  Woodward Avenue now that the gap on Atherton between South Main Street and Wellington Avenue has been completed. The area along Atherton Drive is zoned commercial and is expected to lure heavy traffic volumes.

The use of roundabouts would allow the city to keep traffic moving while slowing it down enough to allow access from connector streets. It also would also go toward meeting a mandate of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District to reduce vehicle idling. The more time vehicles have to stop at traffic signals or stop signs, the less efficiently they burn carbon-based fuel which in turn impacts air quality. Idling vehicles are a major source of valley air pollution.

Roundabouts also save cities considerable amount of money and can reduce the cost of new homes. That is accomplished by deploying roundabouts instead of traffic signals wherever feasible on moderately traveled streets. Not only does that save $500,000 in upfront cost for signals but it reduces ongoing maintenance costs. The reduced development costs also can translate into slightly lower housing prices. The cost of neighborhood infrastructure including improvement sot nearby arterial streets is collapsed into the price of a new home.

Ripon and Lathrop also make use of roundabouts.