Vista is Going Around,…..and About!
Wikipedia describes a “roundabout” as a type of circular intersection or junction in which road traffic flows almost continuously in one direction around a central island. While this traffic concept is not new, it is still something that is only sparingly utilized in our county. Vista, however, is about to join the ranks of those cities that will be employing this traffic flow strategy as the construction on Paseo Santa Fe (a stretch of S. Santa Fe Ave. right in front of Pepper Tree Frosty) comes to a conclusion in late December.
Modern roundabouts were allegedly standardized in the UK and they are commonplace throughout the world. According to the National Roundabout Conference, over half the world’s roundabouts are located in France (more than 30,000 by 2008). Roundabouts arrived in the United States in the 1990’s. Most Americans familiarity with roundabouts, however, comes from the 1985 Chevy Chase movie European Vacation, where the Griwolds seemed to drive around and around a roundabout endlessly.
The concept of a roundabout, or “traffic circle”, (U.S. terminology) is to keep traffic flowing without utilizing stop signs and traffic signals. While this concept sounds good, the reality is that roundabouts are frequently met with enormous skepticism by local residents. Perhaps you are one of those residents who think this is a bad idea…at best. Let’s not forget that in addition to adding the roundabout on Paseo Santa Fe, the city reduced the number of lanes in that section from four (two in each direction) down to two (one in each direction).
I, however, disagree with the naysayers. The Chamber has advocated for many years that we need to “create” an expanded downtown area that is traffic calmed, caters to pedestrians and is a destination-driven area instead of thoroughfare. This is exactly the intent of these changes on Paseo Santa Fe. Yes, this will be inconvenient to those who prefer to blitz through S. Santa Fe Ave. as part of their commute. My honest hope is that the 18 months of construction on this stretch of road has already encouraged them to find an alternate route of “blitzing” around town.
Downtown Vista has definitely come to life over the past five to ten years. And now, developments are stretching that momentum away from the confines of Main Street and Broadway, to finally include Paseo Santa Fe. The biggest pieces of evidence of this expansion are the Paseo Pointe housing complex, the linear park being finished adjacent to Paseo Pointe and the Flying Pig restaurant in the old Auto Zone building. Development ideas are also in the works on projects both to the immediate south and to the immediate north of the current construction area. After 30+ years of blight on S. Santa Fe., redevelopment is finally taking hold.
As the philosopher Heraclitus once said, “The only thing that is constant, is change.” I hope you give the new traffic circle a try. Who knows, it might change your entire outlook on life… Ok, that might be taking it a bit too far. Whether trying out the roundabout affects any change on you or not, I do guarantee you one thing. It will not be the last one in Vista. I hope the Griswolds don’t have any Vista Vacation plans.
Vista Chamber of Commerce