A new addition is about to make a positive impact on the sometimes bottle-neck traffic situation in Temecula’s wine country.
Construction is humming right along on the roundabout being constructed at the intersection of Rancho California Road and Anza Road in front of South Coast Winery Resort & Spa.
“We avoid wine country on the weekends after finding ourselves stuck in a line of slow moving traffic one too many times,” Murrieta resident Jack Rizzo said. “I think the roundabout is a good idea, I mean, Rancho California is a two-lane road.”
County officials are confident the new roadway installment will ease traffic while keeping with the country atmosphere for which the wine country is known.
“We had a vision of keeping wine country’s rural environment intact while moving traffic along in a safe way,” Riverside County Director of Transportation Juan Perez said. “The roundabout in Cabazon eliminated cars backing up on the freeway, so we know it helps the flow of traffic.”
Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association Executive Director Peggy Evans echoed Perez’s sentiments: “The wineries didn’t want to see traffic lights on our thoroughfares; the county felt like this would work better than stop signs.”
Studies done by the Federal Highway Administration show that roundabouts lowered collisions in intersections by 50 percent and fatalities by a whopping 90 percent.
“With a roundabout, drivers can’t run red lights at high rates of speed, they have to slow down to enter the roundabout and they are making a series of simple right turns,” Perez explained.
Throughout the construction of the circular intersection, traffic may be adversely affected with the closure of a portion of Anza Road between Rancho California and Nogales roads starting Apr. 16.
“The project will affect business during the construction period, I’m sure, but the project is expected to be completed by the end of May in time for the Balloon & Wine Festival,” Evans said. “The main concern for us is the closure of Anza southbound; it’s a direct route to the De Portola side of wine country and we’re sure that it will affect the traffic flow to that side.”
The project, which is expected to cost $3 million and is being funded by transportation department and development funds, is scheduled to be finished by mid-May.
Perez added that although there may be an adjustment period for drivers getting used to navigating a roundabout, the end result will prove beneficial for everyone.
Stephanie D. Schulte is a writer/photographer for SWRNN. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.