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San Luis Obispo breaks ground on new roundabout at Orcutt and Tank Farm Roads

Courtesy: City of SLO
Current look at Orcutt/Tank Farm intersection

The intersection at Orcutt and Tank Farm in San Luis Obispo is getting a makeover as crews begin work this week to install a new roundabout.

The city’s goal with the roundabout is to reduce traffic delays and improve public safety.

Jennifer Rice is a Transportation Planner Engineer for San Luis Obispo. She said the city is prioritizing roundabouts because they generally result in fewer traffic delays and emissions compared to signalled intersections.

“There’s a lot of congestion and operational deficiencies out there,” Rice said. “If you’ve ever been out there to that intersection during the peak commute times you’ll be able to observe all of the traffic that piles up at that stop sign at Orcutt.”

Rice said roundabouts are also less expensive to maintain in the long term and the safety benefits of roundabouts are huge. The city said roundabouts reduce injury crashes by 51 percent compared to a signalized intersection or stop sign.

“The reason that they’re so much safer is because they reduce the vehicle speeds,” Rice said. “Also, because everyone is driving in a circular motion in the same direction, it eliminates certain dangerous collision patterns that we see.”

The city said roundabouts also support major city goals related to climate action, open space, and sustainable transportation, as well as housing and homelessness, by creating the necessary infrastructure to support housing construction in the area.

Rice said in general, community members have been positive about the change to the intersection. Some have pushed back against the project, but Rice said most of those concerns are because people aren’t sure how to use the roundabout.

She said the city is working on educating people about how to use it.

“As you’re approaching the roundabout, just make sure that you’re yielding to people walking or biking,” Rice said. “Then, once you get to the circle itself, you’ll yield to the drivers that are already in the circle and you’ll continue around until you get to your exit.”

The roundabout will be constructed in five phases and is expected to take eight months to complete. It should be done by spring of 2022.

The city said Islay Hill Park will remain open during construction, but parking lot access may be limited during certain stages.

The city said people should prepare for temporary lane closures and detours in the area for the duration of construction.

For more information about construction and how to use the roundabout, click here.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020, reporting daily for KCBX News until she moved to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2022. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.