Clovis is getting a new roundabout

At the request of Caltrans, Clovis will be converting a signalized intersection at Temperance and Alluvial into a roundabout this year.

State Department of Transportations love roundabouts. Unlike traffic signals, roundabouts allow for a continuous flow of traffic, which the highway folks love, especially near major freeways. That’s because traffic signals can cause traffic on highways to back up past the exit lane into the general highway. A couple of years ago, most of the exits along CA-41 in Fresno were widened because this was happening.

Here’s a road north of Albany, NY, where the highway folks went roundabout crazy.

https://goo.gl/maps/9NSajojf9pcszqQo6

And a Caltrans example in Santa Clarita:

Caltrans added a few roundabouts along I-5 in Santa Clarita, CA.

On Temperance (Google Maps), there are traffic signals at Herndon, Fir Ave (for the hospital), 168 westbound, 168 eastbound, and Alluvial. That’s a ton of signals is just half a mile. It is impossible to synchronize them because of their spacing and the way traffic is moving.

Currently, Alluvial is pretty sleepy. East of Temperance, there is a little shopping center with a Starbucks, McDonalds, Me-n-Ed’s, and a couple of other things. To the west is the Clovis “Research and Technology Business¬† Park”, which is mostly empty. However, Caltrans believes that as the industrial park is developed, the traffic signal will start to back up.

I believe this will be the first time that an existing signal is converted to a roundabout in Fresno or Clovis. The existing roundabouts were either stop signs, or built on a new roadway.

I’m not quite sure why they want to modify Alluvial instead of the highway exit intersections, but that’s the plan:

The majority of the roundabout will have two lanes. What may prove to be confusing is that in the westbound direction, both lanes turn south.

For drivers on Temperance, this will be an improvement because it will mean waiting at one less signal. However, drivers shopping at the Starbucks/McDonalds etc area will no long be allowed to exit left. It looks like a forced right, and then a u-turn, and then back to the intersection. That is unnecessary extra driving, and I wonder if a second, smaller roundabout would be smarter.

Currently the roadway is being extended east:

Bicyclists will have the option to use the roundabout like a car, or take an “exit ramp” onto the sidewalk. If you squint while looking at this old post I wrote, you can see what the bicycle ramps looks like (thanks Photobucket).

Pedestrians lose out with this configuration, because they must walk longer distances to cross the street. Also, instead of having a guaranteed walking phase, pedestrians will depend on drivers stopping for them. That’s not a guarantee in Fresno.

As of January 2020, construction had not started, but it is expected to start soon.

Intersection as of January 2020

And here’s a bonus video from Caltrans talking about why they like roundabouts. You’ll notice they only talk about vehicle flow and nothing else.

12 Replies to “Clovis is getting a new roundabout”

  1. What are the traffic volumes even like? You mention its a sleepy intersection, the typical single lane Compact Dutch roundabout has good traffic capacity while being cyclist and pedestrian friendly. Cyclists prefer the roundabouts, but you aren’t ever going to mix bikes and cars in the circle. Bikes have their own ring.

    http://i.imgur.com/iltztGN.jpg

    The top speed on the approach roads,as well, is to be no more then 40mph for a Compact Dutch Roundabout. So, if they’re posted and designed 45mph they need to be re-designed to no more then 40mph, probably closer to 35 mph. It looks like that section of Temperance is signed for 50. Here’s a video of Dutch roundabouts.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41XBzAOmmIU

    Typically when new infrastructure like this goes in, it goes in way overbuilt. Planners use “trip generation” to justify these ridiculously wide roads in new suburban developments that end up underused and being a financial burden on the city. That’s what this kind of looks like to me. You could probably re-engineer 3/4 of the approach roads down to 2 lanes–one-lane each way–and still have sufficient capacity.

    1. Excellent points on the speed. Going north, because of all the signals, no one can hit 50. Going south, its easy to hit 50+. I wonder if they will decrease the speed limit or do something else to slow drivers. If not, we can expect to see someone plow straight into it as some point, likely at 2:30am on a Saturday.

  2. That being said their design did cut the number of car lanes from seven down to what looks like 4 lanes by cutting out all the dedicated turn lanes on Temperance. It also looks like traffic can still go right, left, or straight. I dislike that they didn’t use at least use physical dividers like curbing within the circle. The Turbo Roundabout uses these barriers to cut down on the dangerous lane changes that people do within the circle. You can’t change lanes inside the circle of a Turbo Roundabout. You have to pick your lane before hand. That would’ve been a safer choice to cut down on accidents.

    https://surfacespacedesigned.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/image-cl22.jpg

    Pedestrian and cyclist accommodations are lackluster to. They should use this opportunity to put in separate cycle tracks with complete physical separation at the intersection to, no bikes in the auto-traffic circle or sidewalks but in their own right of way.

    1. One interesting point you bring up is that this is indeed a lane reduction. Temperance was designed for 6 lanes + turn lanes. For most of it, is it striped as 2 lanes + bike lane, but the bike lane area is 11 feet wide so they could eliminate the bike lane and add another lane.

      This puts an end to that. Temperance will stay as 2 lanes in each direction. That’s a very good thing and essentially preserves the bike lane along the rest of the avenue.

      I also agree that a turbo roundabout treatment for the west to south movement would be smart. Thats where the confusion will be.

  3. While they’re at it, they should replace the lighting to with more updated fixtures. They probably will. The 5000K BetaLED fixtures they went with years ago is very glare prone and doesn’t run in line with current industry and AMA best practices. The 2700K GE Evolve would be a huge improvement in light quality from both the color temperature aspect but also the optics, and it would also bring the lighting in line with IES guidence. Here’s a short video clip of the 2700K fixtures in action.

    https://youtu.be/7DU9ev3VuXw?t=30

  4. Shits gona be a death trap in the beginning. Those multi lane rndbts are dangerous because peeps will change lanes within the circle or jet out to an exit across a lane cutting someone off. Definitely have to improve lighting at night. This is a place that if I was walking or biking through-I would STOP AND LOOK even though I have the ROW. Because Fresnans and Clovisans are totally used to rndbts so we will be focused on how to navigate through it while not paying attention to bikers and walkers coming from our left or right.

    1. You’re right, all the stats show that single lane roundabouts are extremely safe, double lane increase collisions, and triple lane roundabouts are the most dangerous intersection treatment you can have. This is a mix of 1 and 2 lanes, so it shouldnt be horrible, but will probably increase collisions over the current setup

  5. Shits gona be a death trap in the beginning. Those multi lane rndbts are dangerous because peeps will change lanes within the circle or jet out to an exit across a lane cutting someone off. Definitely have to improve lighting at night. This is a place that if I was walking or biking through-I would STOP AND LOOK even though I have the ROW. Because Fresnans and Clovisans are totally used to rndbts so we will be focused on how to navigate through it while not paying attention to bikers and walkers coming from our left or right.

  6. The building in the southwest corner of the roundabout (bottom left of the top picture) is Clovis Fire Station #5. I wonder how they will stop traffic to allow the fire trucks to roll or will they rely on drivers stopping or maybe begin exiting the rear of the station then approaching the roundabout from Alluvial.

    The large dirt lot on the bottom left corner now is the new California Health Sciences University building.

    1. I am guessing that the dark textured median is designed to allow fire trucks to exit and turn left into the roundabout. Very few vehicles will be going east, so they should be fine. It also looks like they have a driveable median on Alluvial to make a left from the back as well

  7. In case this wasn’t know already, the Enterprise trail is nearby and is going to be extended over 168.

    I think CALTRANs is probably assuming that a good chunk of biker and pedestrian traffic to and from Clovis Community could bypass the intersection entirely and just use the bridge instead.

    Note this Map: https://cdn.abcotvs.com/dip/images/5392331_bridge-plan-map.jpg

    More info on Enterprise trail bridge from ABC 30: https://abc30.com/5392312/

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