Mad River Union
MCKINLEYVILLE – If funding is available, two roundabouts may be constructed on Central Avenue in McKinleyville, one at Bella Vista Road north of the Six Rivers Brewery, the other at Murray Road near the Renner Petroleum station.
Humboldt County Public Works Director Tom Mattson told the McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee (McKMAC) at its Sept. 26 meeting that the county, Redwood Community Action Agency and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) are applying for a planning grant to study Central Avenue from Bella Vista Road to Mill Creek Road. If the grant application is successful, the county would study the feasibility of installing a roundabout at the intersection. Mattson said the county is also looking at building a roundabout at Central Avenue and Murray Road.
The future of these projects depends entirely on whether funding is available, Mattson said, adding that they are “several years down the line.”
Mattson was in attendance at the McKMAC meeting to discuss the Bella Vista Road intersection, an agenda item requested by McKMAC member Ben Shepherd.
“I live off Bella Vista Road and I’m continually amazed at the traffic at that intersection,” Shepherd said.
Central Avenue is the unincorporated community’s main thoroughfare, with the Bella Vista Road intersection being near the southern gateway to Mack Town. Bella Vista Road, along with Bartow Road to the south, connect the hillside neighborhoods to Central Avenue.
“Bella Vista is a challenge because of poor sight lines,” Shepherd said, noting there are cars racing up the road northbound and southbound, sometimes making left-hand turns difficult from Bella Vista Road.
Although the intersection can appear dangerous, the statistics tell a different story.
“There’s been 12 accidents there in the last six years, two of which have resulted in injuries, so it doesn’t rise that high on our safety index fort safety funding,” Mattson said.
A roundabout at Bella Vista Road, Mattson said, “would solve your entrance and exit problem immediately.”
Whether McKinleyville gets the roundabouts, or any other significant funding for road projects, may be decided this November at the ballot box.
Humboldt County voters are being asked to approve Measure O, a half-cent sales tax that funds public safety and other county functions, including public works. The measure basically extends the existing Measure Z, but is permanent and has less restrictions on how the money can be spent.
Also on the ballot is Prop. 6, a state-wide measure that would repeal the Road Repair and Accountability Act, also known as Senate Bill 1. Passed in 2017, bill raised gas taxes and vehicle registration fees, generating more than $5 billion a year for road improvement projects throughout the state, including Humboldt County.
According to Mattson, the Prop. 6 would not only eliminate the recently passed gas tax, it would also significantly reduce the gas tax that existed before.
Road paving and other public works projects would have to compete for a dwindling amount of funding, a “doom and gloom” scenario for Humboldt County Public Works.
“We’re going to try to be positive,” Mattson said. “We’re going to plan for the future.”
While roundabout construction may be years out, Mattson said that the county is considering re-striping Central Avenue near Bella Vista Road. One of problems is convincing drivers that the right-hand northbound Central Avenue lane is intended as a turn lane for motorists to take a right on Bella Vista. Instead, some motorists use it as a passing lane.