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Officers will help drivers navigate roundabout

New 'traffic circles' intended to reduce collisions, traffic

Posted: April 4, 2009 1:09 a.m.
Updated: April 4, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Work continues on the Hasley Canyon Bridge over the Interstate-5 at the Hasley Canyon Road exit near The Old Road on Thursday.

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There's a bit of a learning curve on tap for local motorists as part of a new traffic roundabout in Castaic.

When the $41 million project is finally completed later this year, officials hope to see improved traffic flow at the intersection of Hasley Canyon Road, The Old Road and Interstate 5.

Currently, motorists exiting I-5 can head north or south on The Old Road or west on Hasley Canyon Road. When they do that, they encounter the new roundabout, which is just partially open, instead of the traffic signals they may be more used to.

Drivers are trying to figure out the new arrangement.

"People are confused about how it works," said Officer Scott Nelson with the California Highway Patrol's Newhall area office. "They're waiting for stop signs (or) stop lights."

Nelson said CHP officers will be posted at the roundabout for traffic direction between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. through at least Thursday.
There has been no spike in traffic collisions as motorists navigate new territory, Nelson said.

Work on the project started in 2007 and will include two roundabouts on the east and west sides of the freeway.

They are part of a larger project the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works is working with the California Department of Transportation to replace the Hasley Canyon Road overpass to accommodate future traffic lanes on I-5.

The departments will realign the existing northbound on- and off-ramps and southbound on-ramp, and construct new southbound on- and off-ramps connecting to The Old Road. The bridge over Castaic Creek will be retrofitted for earthquake safety.

Roundabouts are safer than traditional intersections by design, according to information on the Federal Highway Administration's Web site.

A roundabout forces motorists to reduce speed during approach, entry and movement within the circle, as opposed to typical intersections.

Because the only movement at a roundabout's entry and exit points is a right turn, there is a reduction in major collisions of the type that normally occur during left turns, or when traffic crosses an intersection in perpendicular directions, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

The first modern roundabout on the California state highway system was installed in Santa Barbara in 1992, replacing an intersection of five two-lane streets regulated by stop signs.

The old intersection averaged four collisions per year, while five were reported in the 28-month period after the completion of the roundabout, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

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