May 18 Marks Shift in University Drive Traffic Pattern

Posted: May 13, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Dave Andrews

Preparations are in the works for this fall’s opening of the Fairfax Campus’ new 2,600-space Rappahannock River Parking Deck – a structure so large it has prompted City of Fairfax and Mason officials to permanently alter traffic flow on the north end of campus.

Beginning May 18, a portion of University Drive between the north end of campus and downtown Fairfax will permanently close. Traffic will be shifted one block west to the soon-to-be-completed George Mason Boulevard no later than June 14. Until then, traffic will be rerouted to Route 123.

“The opening of the parking deck this fall means there will be many more cars traveling through that area,” says Josh Cantor, director of parking and transportation services at Mason. “We’re doing all we can to create the most efficient traffic patterns. And the city’s plans to connect George Mason Boulevard should prove to be an effective strategy.”

The bulk of the project belongs to the City of Fairfax and was funded using federal and state money. The only university money used for the project has been put toward creating a right turn lane on University Drive turning north onto the connecting portion of George Mason Boulevard. The added turn lane should ease the amount of traffic exiting campus.

University Drive will initially be blocked off at the city/campus property line using construction barriers. However, Mason plans to curb the area and create a grassy, park-like spot, even though the land belongs to the city. At the other end of University Drive near Armstrong Street, large planters will be placed to channel traffic onto George Mason Boulevard.

City officials are confident that although the traffic pattern shift will take some getting used to, George Mason Boulevard will improve traffic for both the city and the university.

“Though the project is largely due to the increasing volume of traffic, this is also an issue of safety,” says Alex Verzosa, transportation director for the City of Fairfax. “Being in a much less residential area, the new road does not intersect with any driveways, making it much safer for residents.”

For further information, contact the Virginia Transit Association at 703-385-7889.

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