Truckee's Roundabout Roundup

Truckee's Roundabout Roundup

July 9, 2021

Why are there so many roundabouts in Truckee? 

At last count, a trip to the grocery store sent me through 4 different roundabouts. I tried not to follow the old “locals don’t stop” mantra and instead ease into the curves like it was a spring day on East Ridge. 

Truckee’s first roundabout was constructed in 1998 at Donner Pass Road near McIver undercrossing. 

“The first roundabout and McIver undercrossing was a really big deal for the town. When Old Brockway was the main highway thoroughfare the town would come to a complete pause when a train passed through. Once that roundabout was built we began to see how much it kept traffic flowing and started to look at it as a model for how the rest of town could potentially flow like that as well,” said Ted Owens, Executive Director of Tahoe Forest Health System and former Truckee Mayor, Town Council Member and retired Nevada County Supervisor. 

Now 11 roundabouts are within the town’s boundaries, with the next one under construction at the Cold Stream interchange (Donner Pass Road and Cold Stream Road) soon. 

Dan Wilkins, Truckee’s Public Works Director and Town Engineer has spent over 23 years leading the management of Truckee’s roadway maintenance activities, capital construction projects, and regulatory oversight that affect the town infrastructure. 

“From an aesthetic standpoint, back in 2007 when creating the Town’s Master Plan, the town was recognizing that basically every location where there is a roundabout would have been a traffic signal and there was a desire to minimize the proliferation in Truckee and stay true to the small town feel.”

Dan noted other reasons the town voted for roundabouts versus traffic lights including, that roundabouts are proven to be safer and more efficient than traffic signals as well as result in less greenhouse gas emissions since there is far less starting and stopping of cars. 

And it makes sense. On your next trip to the grocery store add 2 or 3 more minutes for each roundabout you pass as if it were a traffic light instead. For me, that would have been about 12 more minutes each way just to get some Truckee Sourdough and a 6-pack of Alibi IPA (wink wink). 

The Roundabout Rules

To maneuver through the roundabouts, here are some standard rules of the road: 

  • Yield to traffic that has already entered the roundabout
  • Pedestrians always have the right of way 
  • Avoid changing lanes once inside the roundabout 
  • Slow down when entering the roundabout even if no other traffic is present
  • Give large vans, trucks, and emergency vehicles the extra room they need to safely get through the roundabout 
  • If present, obey the black and white “lane choice” signs that indicate you need to choose a lane before you enter the roadway

Author: Carlynne Fajkos, Tahome Marketing