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.
And a Caltrans example in Santa Clarita:
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.
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.