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Alamo got closer to getting a traffic roundabout for a dangerous intersection on Tuesday, when the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a deal to acquire the necessary land through eminent domain.

The intersection of Danville Boulevard and Orchard Court, about a block north of Stone Valley Road, has had one of the county’s 20 highest accident rates the past five years.

About 20,000 vehicles travel the intersection daily, commingling with one of the county’s highest rates of pedestrians and bicyclists.

Supervisor Candace Andersen, whose District 2 includes unincorporated Alamo, said she remembers her first time driving through the intersection shortly after moving to the area in 1995.

“I felt like I was playing a game of chicken, and I just thought ‘What on Earth … who designed this roadway? It’s frightening,” Andersen said, during the virtual meeting.

The county has worked on acquiring the necessary property from three property owners since 2019. A representative from the company owning Alamo Plaza, on the west side of the intersection, disagreed with the project report.

“I think a roundabout is going to be a great amenity that draws people into the shopping center rather than having to play a game of chicken in order to get there”

Supervisor Candace Anderson

“The staff report says there was an amicable resolution in the design of the roundabout. There is not an amicable resolution at this time,” said Taran Stokes, director of asset management, Northern California, for Donahue Schriber Reality Group.

Stokes said there were design options that limited how much parking lot his company would give up, and that an independent engineer told them the roundabout could be moved farther south. Anderson said that would entail removing a small building and at least one mature tree, which the county wants to avoid.

“I think a roundabout is going to be a great amenity that draws people into the shopping center rather than having to play a game of chicken in order to get there,” Andersen said.

The collision rate at the intersection in recent years was approximately 2.5 times higher than the state average. Over the decade prior to the project’s initial planning phase — kicked off by supervisors in September 2018 — there were at least 13 bicycle and three pedestrian collisions.

Stone Valley Road is about a block south and a major arterial on and off Interstate 680, which runs parallel to Danville Boulevard. Area traffic frequently comes to a standstill during commute hours. That stretch of Danville Boulevard has at least two lanes moving in each direction, plus various turn lanes and bicycle lanes on either side.

The one-lane roundabout will include curb extensions, curb ramps, and entry medians to reduce vehicle speeds and improve the pedestrian crossing. Nearby sidewalks will be re-constructed with ramps complying with ADA requirements.

The project still needs to go out for bid. The roundabout likely won’t be finished until the end of 2022.