New Roundabout on Patriot Circle to Improve Traffic Flow
Posted: April 24, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am
By Dave Andrews
Traffic patterns in the southwest corner of Patriot Circle near Mason Pond on the Fairfax Campus will change significantly this summer and into the fall.
Project designs and schedules are in the final stages as Mason prepares for construction on a roundabout that will connect Patriot Circle and Mason Pond Drive to the future connector road to Route 123.
Traffic studies conducted last fall at Mason concluded that the construction of roundabouts at several campus intersections would calm and improve traffic flow, especially during peak travel times.
“In the next several years, pedestrian numbers are expected to increase dramatically, and right now, our roadway infrastructure doesn’t really address that,” says Aimee Flannery, associate professor of civil engineering, who directed the study.
“Roundabouts are more pedestrian friendly than intersections with stop signs because they isolate the pedestrian flow into certain areas,” she says. “The drivers are better able to see the pedestrians in a roundabout, and vice versa. It’s a win-win – the pedestrians are safer, and the autos don’t have to stop as often.”
Start dates for construction are tentatively scheduled for May 19, once convocations and Commencement are over. At that time, a portion of Patriot Circle will close and traffic will be diverted onto Mason Pond Drive, which will be converted temporarily into a two-way road. Staff parking spaces along the western side of Mason Pond Drive will be removed to make way for the new traffic lane.
Once the roundabout portion is complete, officials estimate a two-week period in early August during which there will be no through traffic in the construction area on Patriot Circle in order to complete the connecting roads.
After Patriot Circle is reconnected in mid-August, Mason Pond Drive will be closed through September for road finishing. Once the project is complete, the current plan shows that the portion of Mason Pond Drive between the parking deck and the roundabout will remain two-way for easier access to the deck. The other half of the road will revert to one-way traffic.
“Initially, getting drivers accustomed to the detours around Mason Pond will be a challenge. But just like with the new spur road [on the northeast side of campus], it won’t take long for everyone to adapt,” says Josh Cantor, director of parking and transportation. “As long as drivers pay attention to the detour signs that will be in place, things should run relatively smoothly.”