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Temporary Roundabout Approved For McHenry, River Intersection
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San Joaquin County Public Works Senior Engineer Firoz Vohra makes a point during the Feb. 23 meeting regarding a temporary roundabout at McHenry and River. Marg Jackson/The Times


Escalon will be getting a roundabout, with San Joaquin County Public Works officials outlining the plan for a sparse crowd Tuesday night, Feb. 23 at the city’s Community Center.

The meeting had originally been planned at City Hall but pre-meeting buzz about the prospect of a roundabout replacing the four-way stop sign at River Road and McHenry Avenue prompted officials to move it to the larger venue.

Only about two dozen people were on hand, however, and that included representatives from the county public works and City of Escalon officials.

Despite the small crowd, those attending had a variety of questions and concerns and a trio of county officials addressed them as thoroughly as possible. Concerns over the greater potential for accidents, as well as the actual impact on traffic flow and more were discussed, and by the end of the evening, the attendees were in agreement with the county that giving the roundabout a try is a solid plan.

While not specifically tied to the future bridge replacement project over the Stanislaus River that connects San Joaquin County on the north to Stanislaus County on the south, Public Works officials said the roundabout should help with traffic flow in the heavily traveled area. The traffic at peak times is often backed up across the bridge and far up McHenry.

Several attendees were skeptical about the need for and actual efficiency of a roundabout at the location but Public Works Senior Engineer Firoz Vohra said studies have shown motorists can anticipate a significant drop in the ‘delay’ factor in getting through the intersection once the roundabout is in place. Because traffic does not come to a complete stop at a roundabout, Vohra noted, the flow is maintained and a peak time delay of over 50 seconds during morning traffic would be reduced to under 13 seconds.

Officials added that they did engineering studies to ensure the heavy truck traffic along the route would be able to utilize the roundabout, with enough room to make all necessary turns regardless of their direction of travel.

Vohra said since there won’t be any construction required and they won’t be changing the layout of the roadway, it will be just as easy to ‘remove’ the roundabout if it doesn’t measure up to expectations.

It could take a couple of months before the roundabout is in place, and county personnel agreed to come back in about six months after the roundabout goes into service to make sure it is working as intended. Escalon City Manager Tammy Alcantor said they will set the six month date after the roundabout goes into effect, but could also move that up if there are enough complaints to warrant an earlier review.