Continental roundabout officially opening

October 28, 2009


By Jaime Richardson, Green Valley News
Green Valley’s newest roundabout will officially open Friday morning following a ribbon cutting at Continental Road and Camino Del Sol.  The four-month Pima County Department of Transportation project included construction of a traffic circle, or roundabout; widening and repaving of a half-mile stretch of Continental Road; and adding multipurpose lanes along Continental from La Canada Drive to the Community Performing Arts Center.

Members of the Santa Cruz Valley Bicycle Advocate Committee, who petitioned the county to secure the inclusion of multipurpose lanes in plans for the project, plan to attend the event and ride through the roundabout en-masse.  “This is a great example of a project that improved safety for all users - motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians,” said Bill Adamson, president of SCVBAC.

According to PCDOT civil engineer Bob Roggenthen, who is overseeing the project, roundabouts are safer alternatives than traffic signals. He said that a motorist running a stop sign or red light could cause a major accident, with one car T-boning the other. But cars in a roundabout would be more likely to glance off each other and avoid a serious collision.
Adamson said the old intersection was confusing and dangerous, especially to bicyclists. Riders now have the option of following the route the car takes through the roundabout or following the pedestrian route through sidewalks and crosswalks, he said.  Adamson is also pleased that the project will complete the network of continuous bike lanes from Green Valley up through Tucson.

Bike lanes begin in Green Valley at Camino Del Sol and Canoa Road, running up Camino Del Sol to Continental, then over to La Canada Drive and north to Duval Mine Road. Duval Mine heading east turns into Nogales Highway, which has bicycle lanes up to Tucson, Adamson said.  The only chunk missing lanes was the stretch from the roundabout to La Canada, a dangerous section for walkers and bicyclists, he said.  “A lot of people walk from Camino Del Sol to the Continental Shopping Plaza to get their groceries, and before, they had to walk in the dirt,” he said.  “There’ll be people who don’t like change, but this is sure an improvement.”

Construction began in July on the $650,000 PCDOT project, funded through the Regional Transportation Authority. Though originally scheduled to be completed by September, PCDOT postponed the project to also repave the roadway from the roundabout to La Canada, which wasn’t part of the original plans but was made possible through $255,000 in funding from RTA.

Starting early next year, the pothole-ridden stretch of Continental from the roundabout west past the Community Performing Arts Center to Duval Mine Road, will be resurfaced with federal stimulus funds, PCDOT officials said.

The first roundabout in Green Valley was built late last year at the Canoa Road exit and the West Frontage Road. Plans for a roundabout at Canoa Road and the East Frontage Road, scheduled to have been built next year at the culmination of the ongoing East Frontage Road project, have been deferred due to lack of funding, according to PCDOT.