Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Friday, Oct. 7, 2022 @ 4:46 p.m.
Caltrans Aims To Install a Roundabout at 199, Elk Valley Cross Road
After years of pressure from the Del Norte Local Transportation Commission, Caltrans will install a roundabout at U.S. 199 and Elk Valley Cross Road.
Caltrans will install a single-lane, four-legged roundabout to reduce the frequency and severity of collisions at that intersection, agency spokesman Myles Cochrane told the Wild Rivers Outpost on Friday. Construction is expected to begin in 2025, he said.
“The existing intersection experiences a collision rate higher than the statewide average,” Cochrane told the Outpost. “The roundabout would have two concrete splitter islands on the east and west side, a concrete path for pedestrians and cyclists on all four legs and additional lighting fixtures.”
Based on the latest available data from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2022, the collision rate at Elk Valley Cross Road and U.S. 199 is 4.1 times the statewide average for similar facilities, Cochrane said. During that three-year period, there were nine reported collisions at that intersection resulting in 12 people being injured, though there were no fatalities, he said.
That intersection — and the entire Elk Valley Road corridor — have been a concern for the Del Norte Local Transportation Commission for roughly five to six years, according to District 3 Supervisor Chris Howard. He said he started pushing for safety measures since Patti Haban was killed in a collision at that intersection in 2014.
Howard said a roundabout was a better solution than a stop sign and a stop light.
“It would keep traffic flowing smoothly, which would allow for the reduction of speed,” he told the Outpost. “We did not want to reduce the flow of traffic to a stop but we definitely wanted to slow vehicles down so there’s not a loss.”
For the past four years, Del Norte County has worked with both Caltrans and Green Dot Transportation to install traffic calming measures on the entire Elk Valley corridor, including the intersections at U.S. 199 and U.S. 101 and the stretch of road going past Sunset High School to Lake Earl Drive, according to Howard.
Prepared by the county’s engineering staff in June 2020, the Elk Valley Cross Road Corridor Plan spans a 1.5 mile stretch between Lake Earl Drive in the west and Parkway Drive in the east, crossing U.S. 101 and 199. It addresses residential neighborhoods near Sunset High School, Kings Valley Golf Course and Florence Keller Regional Park.
According to the county’s report, eight collisions, including one fatality, have occurred within the Elk Valley Corridor over a 10-year period. Most were injury collisions.
Some of the options for increasing safety in that corridor included widening paved shoulders and installing two-way left-turn lanes or left-turn pockets.
Within the state highway system, proposed safety improvements included re-striping near the U.S. 101 and 199 intersections. A roundabout was also considered, according to the county’s report.
According to Howard, the construction of a roundabout at the U.S. 199 and Elk Valley Cross Road intersection is part of a “very deliberate study” of the highway in Del Norte County with Caltrans.
This includes looking at measures that would reduce speeds through Hiouchi and Gasquet from its current 50 mph speed, he said.
“It’s not the first time this discussion was approached. We examined it well over eight years ago, but we want to approach it again,” Howard told the Outpost. “Now we’re definitely seeing an increase in volume, tourism related in particular, so obviously there’s a lot more incidents potentially that could occur.”