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May 30, 2024

Hollister officials show support for setting roundabout policy

Hollister City Council members are headed toward establishing an official policy on the use of roundabouts for traffic control.

Council members gave planning official Mary Paxton consent to return with a proposal for such a policy. It comes while the city has been considering several locations for roundabouts, and Paxton told council members it would be helpful to have a policy in place guiding the city on types of locations to use roundabouts.

A roundabout is an alternative to traffic signals or stop signs for controlling intersections where vehicles move in one direction around a central island. Traffic planners often tout they are safer than lighted intersections in many instances, as Paxton told officials at Monday’s meeting.

Paxton on Monday noted how studies show there are up to 32 “vehicle conflict points” at a signalized intersection and 24 vehicle-to-pedestrian conflict points, but only eight vehicle-to-vehicle conflict points at a roundabout. It generally helps with traffic calming, which Paxton said is a problem in the community.

“Anybody who enters a roundabout has to slow down,” she said.

Other benefits include crosswalks set farther from intersections, a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and not being affected by power outages, Paxton said, adding how they’re also a place where communities can place public art.

She acknowledged some situations aren’t warranted for roundabouts such as high-volume intersections and areas with “very high” pedestrian volumes. She said the city has three sample roundabout policies of other jurisdictions.

Council members appeared supportive, in general, of roundabouts.

“I think developing a policy is always good,” said Councilwoman Carol Lenoir, who noted she “warmed up” to roundabouts after a challenging early experience. Councilman Rolan Resendiz said there is some pushback from the public on roundabouts but added that they should get accustomed to them with experience.

“Once we start doing it, you’ll get used to it,” he said, adding how he agrees they’re not appropriate for every situation.

Mayor Ignacio Velazquez said they beat sitting at a stagnant red light at midnight with no other traffic around.

“We can do better planning if that policy’s in place,” he said.