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Depot Park roundabout doesn’t work during busy weekends, holidays, reader says
Dear Street Smarts, Q: I think it is time for a new article about the Depot Park roundabout. It has been one year since the opening of the roundabout at Depot Park and a very unfavorable article about it following one of the busiest traffic weekends in the year – Memorial Day weekend. I saw the awful traffic at the time and blamed the holiday beach traffic. I think the traffic that day was worse than even at times during construction. I generally try to avoid that area on the weekends on general principles, but during the week, when there are not as many beach-goers, it is really nice to be able to drive from my home off lower Bay to to the Soquel Street business area. Beverly Boyd, via email A: Blame the lack of roadway capacity in town for the peak period backup, said Chris Schneiter, assistant director for the city's public works department. “The roadway system experiences congestion during the peak days that cannot be addressed with the limited roadway capacity in town,” he said of the roundabout, which has been landscaped this spring. “The roundabout operates very well most of the time, but during those peak periods, it will not be able to serve all traffic, and gridlock conditions can and have occurred. "Like any intersection, if motorists enter the intersection when the receiving lane is backed up, all the other movements get jammed up," he continued. "We continue to keep an eye on the roundabout and hope to address some of the downstream backups that contribute to the poor operation during the peak hours.” Street Smarts asked Schneiter if the city has a backup plan in place to address the peak traffic congestion in the area. The city has nothing up its sleeve, he said, “other than we continue to keep an eye on it and look for cost effective solutions. When asked whether the roundabout is working better than the previous stop sign system, he responded, "Yes, it's safer and flows more freely most of the time. The improvements in air quality and reduced green house gases from the fewer stops and starts is important to note. Aesthetically, it's a more pleasing intersection."