DAVID GIONGCO Caltrans Local Assistance Engineer

Considering Roundabouts

Is your local agency trying to install a roundabout at an intersection … but having difficulties because of public perception, lack of design experience, or for some other reason? If so, the efforts at Caltrans to formally incorporate roundabout considerations into their projects may be the helpful lead to those trying to implement similar strategies at their cities and counties.

Background

Caltrans is in the process1 of updating updated procedures for Intersection Control Evaluation (ICE). Two of the key process changes that I’ve noted are:

  1. Proposals to employ full control (i.e. use of signal, stop, or yield control (roundabouts)) at state highway intersections must consider all three intersection control strategies and the supporting design configurations during the ICE screening process.
  2. The Districts will be authorized to implement roundabouts2.

How Does This Affect Me?

For projects that your agency is administering on the State Highway System (SHS), the new procedures will require that roundabouts be included in the traffic control strategies considered for intersection and interchange projects. The assigned Caltrans Project Manager will assist with required coordination and approval during the ICE process.

The Caltrans directive is not applicable for projects off the SHS, but the policy change demonstrates the increasing acceptance of roundabouts for intersections3. If a roundabout is a strategy being considered for your local agency project, the push at the State level could be used an example of how other agencies are approaching this alternative approach.

Resources

Information about modern roundabouts is becoming more available as the benefits are realized. If you would like to learn more about roundabouts, I recommend the following resources to get started:

Here are some YouTube videos addressing that could be helpful during public meetings.


Final Thoughts

This wasn’t one of my typical posts about Local Programs policy and procedures, but I thought the information that I received from District Traffic Operations staff would be of interest to local agencies having difficulties implementing roundabouts. While the policy update does not directly affect projects off-system, the increase promotion and use of roundabouts may be a trend worth noting.

Updated on 2013-09-05 to reflect approval TOPD 13-02.

  1. The final draft of TOPD 13-02 is in circulation for review was approved. Here’s a copy of ICE TOPD Implementation Memo that was issued by the Division of Traffic Operations. 

  2. Approval from HQ iswas needed in the currentprevious process. 

  3. I’m not implying that roundabouts are the solution for all intersections. It’s another alternative if conditions allow and operations goals can be met.