The Elk Grove City Council on Aug. 24 provided direction on the Grant Line Road Precise Roadway Plan Study, including their preference for a series of roundabouts between Bond and Calvine roads.
According to a city staff report, this study focuses on roadway improvements within that 2.7-mile segment of Grant Line Road, and seeks recommendations to “guide future phases of project implementation as funds become available.”
Improvements for this Grant Line Road section, known as Segment C, are part of the 34-mile Capital Southeast Connector project.
Four years ago, Elk Grove city officials issued a request for proposal for engineering consultants to prepare the Grant Line Road Precise Roadway Plan Study for Segment C. The city later contracted with the infrastructure consulting firm, AECOM.
Alan Glen, a senior project manager with AECOM, told the council that with the expansion of Grant Line Road to four lanes, it was necessary to design the intersections to accommodate an increase in traffic.
“As such, we’ve worked with the city to extrapolate the traffic forecasts out to year 2050,” he said. “And that will provide a 20-year design life beyond anticipated construction completion.”
During part of the study process, five locations along Grant Line Road were initially evaluated for signals. Roundabouts were later added to that study, as well as a review of an intersection between Sheldon and Calvine roads.
Each of the proposed alternatives consisted of intersection controls at Aleilani Lane and Bond, Calvine, Sheldon and Wilton roads. The study also considers an additional intersection control at either Bradley Ranch or Graybill roads.
The council was presented with alternatives for both signals and roundabouts.
Each of the two signal alternatives call for signals at each study intersection. The only differences between those options are the addition of a signal at Graybill Road for one alternative and the addition of a signal at Bradley Ranch Road for the other alternative.
Alternatives for the roundabouts consist of roundabouts at each study intersection.
One of those alternatives, Alternative 2A, includes an additional roundabout at Graybill Road.
Another alternative, Alternative 2C, calls for a realignment of Wilton Road and the relocation of the Wilton Road intersection.
Roundabout Alternative 2A/2D includes an additional roundabout at Bradley Ranch Road.
The remaining roundabout option, Alternative 2C/2D, would provide a roundabout at Bradley Ranch Road, a realignment of Wilton Road, and the relocation of the Wilton Road intersection.
In addressing roundabouts, Glen spoke about their operational and safety benefits.
“There’s two primary things that drive the operational and safety benefits,” he said. “One is reduced speed coming into the intersection, and secondly is the elimination of crossing maneuvers.”
He added that crossing maneuvers result in the most serious accidents, and that there are 32 conflict points in a typical intersection, half of which are crossing maneuvers.
“(The Federal Highway Administration) has determined that the roundabouts in a typical intersection should achieve greater than 90% reduction in fatalities, 76% reduction in injuries, and overall, 35% reduction in crashes,” Glen said.
Glen presented an image of a roundabout, which he mentioned only has eight conflict points, none of which are crossing maneuvers.
He noted that as the study was being developed, the community often requested that the roundabouts be suitable for agricultural vehicles and horse trailers.
“We have laid out those roundabouts to accommodate those vehicles,” Glen said.
Prior to the council’s direction on the signals versus roundabout issue, community input was obtained through three public meetings: 1) A Zoom meeting with 124 attendees on Sept. 17, 2020, 2) An in-person meeting with 140 attendees on Aug. 31, 2021, 3) A Zoom meeting with 67 attendees on Mar 1, 2022.
Glen told the council that attendees of each meeting were asked whether they preferred signals or roundabouts for the Segment C section of Grant Line Road.
“The combination of all three meetings indicate about a 62% preference for roundabouts,” he said.
On the issue of whether to control intersections by signals or roundabouts, the council, during their Aug. 24 meeting, aligned with the city staff’s recommendation to favor roundabouts for their overall safety benefits and effect on businesses, their anticipated construction costs, and their overall support from the community.
Council Member Pat Hume echoed the staff’s recommendation on roundabouts.
“From a safety standpoint, from an air quality standpoint, from a throughput standpoint (and) I think from an aesthetic standpoint of not recreating another urban thoroughfare like Watt Avenue or Hazel Avenue in the rural area, roundabouts are proved to be superior,” he said.
Council Member Kevin Spease also spoke about roundabouts as providing the safest option.
“What a roundabout does is it reduces the likelihood of a head-on collision, which results in a fatality,” he said. “And for that reason, a traffic circle is the safest. I’m not suggesting that it doesn’t have accidents, but what I’m talking about is fatalities.”
Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen additionally shared her support of roundabouts, noting that she believes the “statistics and studies speak for themselves.”
While the council did not officially advocate for specific locations of the roundabouts, Spease shared his thoughts on the Bradley Ranch Road roundabout alternative.
“It appears to me that Bradley Ranch is a better solution, but we do need to do a study and make sure that works out appropriately,” he said.
Hume also spoke favorably about the Bradley Ranch Road roundabout alternative, stressing that he “highly recommend(s)” that option.
Singh-Allen shared her desire for the gathering of more input from business owners of the area.
“I would like to see another round of conversations with the small business community to really get their input,” she said. “I know we’ve gotten some.”
Spease specifically encouraged the acquisition of input from a developing, Sheldon business group headed by Sheldon Inn owner Jeffrey Adkins.
“(Adkins) is trying to put together a group that can put together a position relative to that,” he said. “So, I would suggest all of the businesses, if any of them are listening, to please hop on board with that, so that a single voice, if possible, can be found.”