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By Mike Hazlip–
One of the main entrances for the future 260-home Mitchell Village development in Citrus Heights will direct traffic around a circular roundabout on Arcadia Drive.
In a statement from the city’s traffic management team, relayed to The Sentinel through spokeswoman Nichole Baxter, the city said a roundabout was chosen to provide better visibility and slow the speed of traffic moving through the intersection. Baxter said the team also expects the roundabout will have better pedestrian access and aesthetic appeal once landscaping is completed.
The city has installed several circular intersections in the past, but the only true “modern roundabout” is located near City Hall on Stock Ranch Road. Roundabouts have attracted controversy largely due to driver confusion, but studies show properly designed roundabouts increase traffic flow and reduce injury collisions.
“Numerous studies have shown significant safety benefits of roundabouts, particularly related to the reduction of injury crashes when compared to traditional stop controlled and signalized intersections,” the city said. “Due to their shape and one-way nature of moving vehicles, roundabouts eliminate severe conflict points present at traditional stop controlled and signalized intersections, resulting in a typical 75% reduction in injury crashes when compared to traditional intersections.”
Plans show the intersection will have a truck apron allowing large trucks and buses to navigate around the center circle. Arcadia Drive is an approved route in the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) of 1982, according to the city. STAA vehicles are longer than trucks normally allowed in California, and have a wider turning radius.
A study published by the Federal Highway Administration shows roundabouts reduce traffic fatalities by up to 90%, with a corresponding 75% reduction in injury crashes. However, a 2017 article in Bloomberg casts some doubt on roundabout benefits, noting an increase in non-injury collisions as new drivers attempt to navigate the unfamiliar design.
A 2011 video released by the Federal Highway Administration said initial public reaction to roundabouts is often mixed, but most motorists have favorable opinions once they begin using the intersection.
City planners hope the intersection will also help the environment as traffic flow through the circle is designed to keep motorists moving, reducing the number of stops and the idle time for vehicles. Slower traffic flow through a roundabout will also reduce noise for the surrounding homes yet to be built at the site.
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