About the Colony

Roundabouts planned for Wal-Mart project won’t be Atascadero’s first

Atascadero is planning to build roundabouts at the Del Rio Road interchange with Highway 101 in preparation for the Wal-Mart development.
Atascadero is planning to build roundabouts at the Del Rio Road interchange with Highway 101 in preparation for the Wal-Mart development. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

While the city of Atascadero negotiates how it is going to pay for the roundabouts to be built at Del Rio Road and Highway 101, I might just have stumbled across a solution that would be substantially less than the multimillion-dollar interchanges at that site.

I came across an article in the March 23, 1923, edition of the Atascadero News. The headline over the 4-inch-long story at the very bottom of the page read “See That Button?” The article went on to explain that a black circle had been painted on the pavement in the intersection of Traffic Way and “the North Highway,” which is today’s El Camino Real.

It was put in by the Auto Club of Southern California under the supervision of Berry Merritt, manager of the San Luis Obispo County office, and local Constable E.D. Jarvis and Traffic Officer Roy A. Porter, the late Ernie Porter’s father.

The reason for the newspaper article was to inform drivers to go around it and not through it.

This was a dangerous intersection back then. I talked to one old-timer who told me 30 minutes could go by without a car in either direction on the state highway. So no doubt the issue was local traffic.

“Driving around a button is a simple matter and many may not think much of it,” the article warned, adding, “but if either Constable Jarvis or Officer Porter catches anybody cutting that corner, going from Traffic Way into the highway and turning south, or entering Traffic Way from the north, without going around that button,” they would be subject to a traffic fine.

“There have been many accidents at that corner and it is dangerous at all times, and unless traffic rules are observed something serious will happen,” the newspaper article warned. The article concludes with, “… so it is a game of button, button, who sees the button?”

I wonder how you could see a black circle painted on the road at night.

That section of the state highway had been paved with a ribbon of concrete only eight years before by the state.

It wasn’t until the fall of 1972 that Atascadero got its first stoplight at that very same intersection.

Lon Allan’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Atascadero for nearly five decades and his column appears here every week. Reach Allan at 805-466-8529 or leallan@tcsn.net.

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