Spumoni Circle 10th Anniversary
This summer we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the construction of Spumoni Circle. In the history of Lake Tahoe there has never been a project that reduced air pollution and improved traffic safety as much as Spumoni Circle (aka the Incline Village Roundabout).
Since its completion in August 2012 there has not been a single serious injury or fatal accident at the intersection of highways 431 and 28. Prior to building Spumoni Circle, there were injury accidents every month and fatal accidents just about every year. By creating this roundabout, the traffic flows smoothly through the intersection. On the rare occasion there is an accident it is a minor fender bender. This is due to the fact that the roundabout forces drivers to slow down to approximately 20 mph. Also, there are no more T’Bone style accidents. Spumoni Circle ensures that any accident would result in 2 vehicles hitting on an acute angle.
Prior to the construction of the roundabout, highways 431 and 28 formed a perfect T shaped intersection. There were 2 stop signs. One of the stop signs was at the terminus of Highway 431 affecting people who wanted to turn left on Highway 28. The other stop sign was on Highway 28 affecting drivers who wanted to turn left onto Highway 431.
The net result was that traffic backed up on both highways for anyone wanting to make a left-hand turn. Drivers would become frustrated with waiting potentially as long as 10 minutes simply to make a left-hand turn. This resulted in some drivers cutting off the oncoming traffic. Hence, the frequent serious injury and occasional fatal accidents.
People who were traveling straight on Highway 28 were often exceeding the 40 mph speed limit. And drivers turning right from Highway 431 onto Highway 28 toward California would sometimes merge too quickly. The residents of nearby Woodridge Circle witnessed the sound of many vehicles colliding every year.
I came up with the idea to create Spumoni Circle when I was stuck in traffic in March 2007 at the stop sign on Highway 431. I was in a line of only 5 vehicles but had to wait nearly 15 minutes to make that dangerous left-hand turn. It was during that wait that I got the inspiration to create a roundabout so the traffic could flow more smoothly.
The inspiration came to me as I was thinking about how Spumoni used to run from room to room in a big circle around our house in Alameda. As long as all the doors were open, he could run freely for several minutes. But closing 1 of those doors was like putting up a stop sign. It impeded his ability to enjoy romping around the house. That flash of inspiration was the spark that led me to make a presentation to the Incline Village infrastructure committee.
The other members of the committee Gene Brockman, Jim Nowlin and Bill Landry immediately supported the idea. A few weeks later I made a presentation at the IVGID Board of Trustees meeting. The board voted unanimously to provide me with a letter of support. I took that letter of support to the Nevada Department of Transportation and the rest is history.
I would like to offer a my thanks to Jim Clark, Jim Nowlin and State Senator Bill Kiekefer for their support and efforts to work with me to get the project approved by NDOT. And a very special thanks to sculptor June Brown for her donation of time and energy to create the bronze statues that adorn Spumoni Circle.
Countless lives have been saved and injuries avoided because Spumoni Circle replaced a very dangerous T shaped intersection. But just as important, vehicles no longer sit idling at stop signs spewing thousands of tons of pollutants into the air every year.
So, the next time you are traveling through Spumoni Circle please wave to the statue of Spumoni. And remember, without his inspiration there would not be a roundabout and many lives would have been permanently altered for the worse.