Round and Roundabout
From the time I was a child I was familiar with traffic circles. I grew up in Bellflower, California, and we drove to Long Beach at least once a week to visit friends or relatives. A traffic circle served the intersection of Lakewood Boulevard, Pacific Coast Highway, and Los Coyotes Diagonal. Although officially it was called the Los Alamitos Traffic Circle, locals knew it simply as The Traffic Circle. After all, there weren't any other ones in Southern California that we were aware of. No one liked driving through it, but there was no other way to get where they wanted to go. So we used it. It was still there the last time I drove through there in the 1980's. While I was researching this, I discovered the old traffic circle has been converted into the more fashionable roundabout .
The reason I started thinking about this was that on our recent trip to Ventura, I got quite a shock. We habitually take either Interstate Highway 101 from Paso Robles down to State Highway 154 until we meet 101 again in Santa Barbara. This is a lovely drive through the mountains above Santa Barbara and past Cachuma Lake. You can see part of that drive in the photo above. Right click and choose open image in new tab from the drop-down menu to expand the photo.
If we are low on gasoline, we pass the 154 turnoff and continue to Beullton and take the Highway 246 turnoff, where we stop at Tom's gas station to fill up (That is Tom's Gas, located in the Albertson's center on the south side of Hwy 246, in the photo below. So far they've beat evey gas price along our route.), and then we continue down 246 through the scenic town of Solvang. This is a rural area and 246 goes past vineyards and the Chumash Casino Resort in Sana Ynez before it meets 154 again.
It was at that intersection I got my big shock. It used to have a stop sign on 246. Then when safe, you would left turn onto 154 to continue to Santa Barbara. But the stop sign was gone. The intersection had been converted to a roundabout. I'm not yet sure if I like it, but I guess it's supposed to be safer, because people often did speed on 154.
The city of Paso Robles is thinking of teaming up with Caltrans to put a roundabout at the intersection of Highway 46 West (the road to Cambria and Hearst Castle), where it intersects South Vine Street, the 101 on and off ramps, and Ramada Drive. I have to pass that intersection almost every day, since I live on Highway 46 West, and there's no other way to get to the east side of town or to the freeway that leads north and south. I'm hoping they don't convert this in my lifetime. I can just picture the road construction delays. It will probably be an engineering nightmare to design a roundabout that will connect all those roads.
Do you have any roundabouts near you? Do you like them?
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Image Credit » I took the photo