Several years ago, I joined the RSFA Intersection Committee to help expedite a solution to the traffic problem on Paseo Delicias. I live on the east side of the Ranch, so I am affected. Traffic lights seemed like a viable option – they could be installed quickly, and they would eliminate the traffic backup. At the time, I did not know much about roundabouts, other than they may delay a decision. However, the more I learned, the more I realized traffic lights were a bad idea, and roundabouts were actually a much better solution. As a result, our committee ended up voting 6 to 1 to recommend roundabouts.
There are several reasons why I changed my mind. The roundabouts will serve as a beautiful gateway to our community. They will be more in keeping with the rural aesthetics of the Ranch, and will have beautifully landscaped center islands. They offer a visual traffic break entering RSF from the east by concealing traffic flow. There is no highway view plane.
I learned that traffic lights have up to eight overhead lights at each intersection with 2000 watts plus 1000 watts of signal lights. They will have aggravating left turn lanes with red lights. Worse yet, the bright lights and changing red-yellow-green traffic signals will be visible from the Inn and main street. Traffic lights violate our “dark sky” policy and are just not appropriate for RSF.
Roundabouts turned into the clear choice when I found out they move traffic more safely and 20% faster than traffic lights. There is no stopping and starting, just a continuous flow. As residents, we will always be waiting at annoying red lights. With roundabouts, we will always have access to roadways.
I also now appreciate the very real danger of the impending widening of Via de la Valle and Paseo Delicias to four lanes, a much larger problem for us than any other issue. The County owns the roads and can do as they wish. Traffic lights will make it easy for them to widen our roads, whereas roundabouts can stop it.
Since roundabouts may take several years to be installed, lights remain an option. Choosing traffic lights now will give us a quicker solution, but irreversible, and with many long-term negative implications – including 10% more traffic immediately and a potential for four lanes.
Member, Rancho Santa Fe Association Intersection Committee