It was hot by Lake August standards, but much more reasonable that the scorching weather that captured the Livermore Valley. We had highs in the 80s every day, but a few afternoon breezes and a fan in our bedroom made it tolerable to sleep (our unit, like many older ones in the mountains, is not air conditioned). It is rare to go to sleep at 6,500 feet of elevation and need no more than a sheet all night.
Driving in Meyers just southwest of South Lake Tahoe, I was struck by the new roundabout under construction at the intersection of highways 50 and 89—the two all-season TransSierra routes feeding into the Tahoe basin from the southwest.
What was striking is the design forces incoming traffic to yield to cars in the circle that is designed for 15 mph. I have no idea of the history of accidents at the intersection, but I can imagine it is very busy on Saturday afternoons during ski season when people are returning from Kirkwood (Highway 89/88) and Sierra at Tahoe (50). There’s also a snow play area on Echo Summit that draws families.
Traffic inbound to South Lake Tahoe will proceed at a snail’s pace through the roundabout, while a bypass was designed for westbound traffic on Highway 50 to allow those motorists to bypass the 15 mph circle.
What’s interesting is to compare this roundabout with several in Bend, Oregon that were installed on the main road from the Mt. Bachelor Ski Area back to the city. They are much wider than the California version allowing cars to travel side-by-side. They replaced traffic signals so more traffic could flow efficiently. It seems like CalTrans has the opposite thought.
The agency did install three similar roundabouts in Kings Beach, including one at the busy corner of Highway 267 (the road to Truckee and Interstate 80). These will slow traffic and making it safer for pedestrians to cross in an area with plenty of businesses on both sides of the road.
The state of Nevada got into the act a few miles east where the Mt. Rose Highway (No. 431) flows into Highway 28 at Incline Village. It again is poorly designed with the 15 mph circle at a busy intersection of two major highways with limited pedestrian movement.
Roundabouts can be an effective traffic management tool, but they can be just the opposite as Pleasanton residents will remember from the ill-advised ones that the city had to take out on Vineyard Avenue.