Despite local skepticism, Caltrans dedicates new roundabout at Highway 50, Highway 89

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MEYERS, Calif. (KTXL) – Roundabouts have been embraced in other countries for decades but the idea in the Tahoe Basin has been met with resistance.

One at Highway 50 and Highway 89 replaces a hazardous T-intersection and Caltrans hopes it changes perceptions.

Caltrans dedicated the roundabout on Thursday. Officials say it’s meant to smooth out horrible traffic tie-ups during busy months with a key focus on safety.

“It’s anticipated that this roundabout will slash the accident rates by 36% and the collisions by 80%,” Caltrans Project Manager Martin Clark said.

But habits die hard. Because roundabout traffic is designed to keep moving, drivers must gauge distances and speed before entering and exiting.

“You are going to have to learn how to navigate a roundabout,” Tahoe Planning Agency CEO Joanne Marchetti said. “It is not a four-way stop sign.”

Tahoe planning officials have installed several roundabouts on surface streets and say they are always greeted with skepticism -- at first.

“People would be talking in the grocery line about, ‘That Meyers roundabout is going to be terrible.’ And now, you're hearing people say, 'It works. We like it,’” Marchetti said.

While drivers have to slow down, without it a roundabout they often have to stop and idle for long periods, which is bad for air pollution and patience.

“People are sometimes reluctant to accept change but I think they’re going find out that this is a great improvement,” Tahoe Chamber of Commerce CEO Steve Teshara said.

Planners now have their sights on another troubled intersection at Highway 50 at Pioneer Road.

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