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November 6, 2018

Town council to consider three more roundabouts

A fountain stood in front of the old Fauquier courthouse from 1913 to 1928.
Proposed Traffic Circles
• Where: East Lee Street and Walker Drive; East Lee and Falmouth streets, and Courthouse Square.

• Total cost: $2.2 million.

• Funding: $1.9 million from federal Highway Safety Improvement Program and 10 percent match — or $220,000 — from town.

• Next: Town council will discuss the project Thursday, Nov. 8, and vote Tuesday, Nov. 13, whether to seek funding.

• Construction: Could start in 2020 with completion in 2022.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
Warrenton could get three more roundabouts at busy intersections in and near Old Town.

The proposed, single-lane roundabouts would be at:

• East Lee Street and Walker Drive.

• East Lee Street and Falmouth Street.

•  Main Street, Waterloo Street and Alexandria Pike in front of the old courthouse.

Assuming council approval Nov. 13, the town will apply for $1.9 million in federal grants through the Highway Safety Improvement Program to fund design and construction of the roundabouts.

> Document attached below

If the town receives that grant next spring, it would provide a 10-percent match of $220,000. Those funds would come from transportation proffers that developers have paid as part of residential rezoning negotiations, according to Warrenton Planning Director Brandie Schaeffer.

Virginia Department of Transportation representatives in October approached town officials about funding for roundabouts at the three intersections.

“There’s enough crash activity (at the intersections) to benefit from a safety standpoint,” VDOT Traffic Engineer Nathan Umberger said. “What roundabouts really help is traffic calming, but keeping traffic moving. Lower speed environments are much safer for pedestrians to cross.”

VDOT’s records indicate 16 crashes took place at the three intersections from 2013 to 2017, including one in which a vehicle struck a pedestrian in front of the courthouse on Main Street.

“Roundabouts have proven to reduce overall crashes by 50 to 80 percent, in addition to the traffic calming and pedestrian safety benefits they provide,” Mr. Umberger said.

The town’s Capital Improvements Plan includes a roundabout at East Lee Street and Walker Drive.

During the rezoning for a mixed-use development of 31.4 acres between Walker Drive and the Eastern Bypass, developers and the town discussed both traffic signals and a roundabout for the Lee Street intersection.

“As a result of the 2016 discussion with neighbors on the intersection improvements, a roundabout was the preferred method if we moved forward with any improvements,” Ms. Schaeffer said.

The town Comprehensive Plan also contemplates a roundabout at Lee and Falmouth streets, where four stop signs control traffic flow.

The proposed courthouse roundabout has a historical precedent. A century-old photo depicts a fountain in the intersection’s center before cars replaced horses and buggies. Constructed in 1913, the fountain got demolished 15 years later.

The town and VDOT plan to fit all three roundabouts within the existing rights-of-way.

In June 2019, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, which controls funding, will vote on the project.

“It’s a very good possibility that (the town) will receive some level of funding . . . hopefully the whole thing,” Mr. Umberger said.

If the town fails to get the full funding, it could opt out of building one of the roundabouts if the “benefit-to-cost (ratio) could still be met for the amount of funds that would be used in relation to what would be constructed,” Mr. Umberger said.

Citizens would have opportunities to express their views about the proposed roundabouts during the design phase next.

If all goes according to plan, the roundabouts could open by 2022.

The town council will discuss the proposal during its monthly work session Thursday night and vote on whether to submit the application during its meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13.

Warrenton’s first roundabout on a major street opened Oct. 23 at East Shirley Avenue and Falmouth Street near the Walmart.

Contact Cassandra Brown at or 540-878-6007.

Warrenton council resolution to apply for VDOT roundabout funds by Fauquier Now on Scribd

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Sven622 · November 8, 2018 at 7:45 pm
Again... cars yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, not the other way around. Happens all the time on Main St. We walk our dog there. Never had a problem getting across the street. I've also had no problem with the bump outs. I drive just fine, thanks for the kind words. And as I said... maybe you didn't read it... I am against a circle at the courthouse because it will restrict traffic getting out of town westbound Main St. That is a horrible idea. Will gridlock Main St. I'm also against the proposal to replace the 4-way stop because there isn't a problem there ever. Apparently one is bady needed at Walker/Lee.
Tell It Like It Is · November 8, 2018 at 9:01 am
Yeah circles ... then no pedestrians can cross .... at certain times of day because of too much traffic.
4-way stops are fine, much less expensive and stop traffic for pedestrians to cross.
People can't even make turns on the new punch outs on main st without running up on the curb!! Just look them and you can see it. I said that would happen before they were even started!
Sorry Sven622 ..... you and the others need learn to drive.

Sven622 · November 7, 2018 at 2:18 pm
Cars must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, not the other way around. Circles are awesome. What is this "decades old technology" nonsense? They save lives, they save money, they are way more efficient than lights or stop signs. Even 4-way stops like that PITA at Falmouth n Lee. Bring on the circles. That said... I don't get the need at Walker & Lee. More of a need at Rt29 off ramp & Lee! Also the one at the courthouse...? I dunno about that one. Seems to me the greater need is to allow cars coming out of town constant right of way - which is how it is now.
ScottRAB · November 7, 2018 at 1:00 pm
All modern roundabouts have median islands separating incoming and outgoing auto traffic. Pedestrians don't have to find a gap in two directions of traffic, just one. This is safer for pedestrians, especially for younger or older ones, because they only need to concentrate on one direction of traffic at a time. This is what is meant by two-phase. Cross the first half, pause if you need to, then cross the second half. With the lower design speed of 15-20 mph, roundabout medians become very safe places to cross. It’s estimated that median refuges for pedestrians reduce crashes by 25% or better.
ScottRAB · November 7, 2018 at 12:59 pm
Mini-roundabouts are less common in North America, but frequently used in the UK. Their footprint is smaller, making them suitable for retrofit situations with right of way constraints (and lower cost). They are also commonly used where truck U-turns are not needed, so achieve all the safety benefits of compact modern roundabouts at a much lower cost. They are all truck apron, and in the UK are sometimes just paint on the road.
ScottRAB · November 7, 2018 at 12:58 pm
People using the road make mistakes (like running stop signs and red lights), always have and always will. Crashes will always be with us, but they need not result in fatalities or serious injury.

Modern roundabouts are the safest form of intersection in the world - the intersection type with the lowest risk of fatal or serious injury crashes - (much more so than comparable signals). Modern roundabouts require a change in speed and alter the geometry of one of the most dangerous parts of the system - intersections.
IdaK92 · November 7, 2018 at 12:44 pm
Does no one realize or notice how many people are driving OVER the roundabout? I literally watched a car drive over the round part and not care. Trucks do it daily. Why waste the money for it?
JOHN REEVES · November 7, 2018 at 10:41 am
3 more roundabouts. WOW The next thing we will hear is they want
to put Bistro Tables in the center so people can wait there for court.
Fantastic idea. The so called reason for the sidewalk bump out was for
pedestrian safety. Now lets put people at risk in front of the court house
to navigate crossing the circle. Maybe they should write LOOK! all the way around it. Makes alot of sense. Town Council needs a reality check.
MissB · November 7, 2018 at 8:35 am
Roundabouts are the norm in UK and other countries. You get used to them, and they make a lot of sense.

I hate the 4-way stop at Lee, Main & Falmouth and a roundabout there would be welcome!
Rover 530 · November 6, 2018 at 9:34 pm
The area near the Old Courthouse is too small and is difficult because of the hill up Alexandria Pike and the issue of pedestrian traffic. Plus what about the school buses that have to navigate through that area to get to and from Warrenton Middle School?

The area near Main/Falmouth and Lee/Meetz is unnecessary. It's a 4-way stop sign intersection. People figure it out with stops and low speeds.

VDoT is looking to these mini-roundabouts within existing rights-of-way just to save money rather than for practical and safety reasons. It's always good to save money but not at the expense of common sense.
Melrose Carter · November 6, 2018 at 8:05 pm
rsteele - they work great in Nuernburg Germany, yet then again people have to go to driving school for 5 years before being allowed to get a license, at least it used to be that way, so I can see roundabouts not being for the newbies.
Jimbowski · November 6, 2018 at 6:42 pm
OOPS--Just thought of another thing--how about pedestrians crossing Main street right at the entrances and exits to the "thing"..
Jimbowski · November 6, 2018 at 6:37 pm
Wow--a roundabout at the old courthouse!! When I first moved to Warrenton back in 1974 every once in a while on busy traffic days I remember the chief of police would direct traffic there to keep things moving- guess what that, would still work. I can just imagine the mess on busy days on Main Street with a roundabout given the parking situation.
rsteele · November 6, 2018 at 4:13 pm
The proposed roundabouts will be too small to place anything in the center. Like the one in front of Walmart they will need to be more or less flat to allow trucks to go over them as the turn radius will be too tight to maneuver around them.

I've never seen one on a hill before. The one at the courthouse should be interesting. I have serious doubts it will get built. That would be fine by me. They are a decades old solution that has been a proven failure in the past and I don't see why it should be any more successful now.
brandonj · November 6, 2018 at 3:11 pm
I've always felt the intersection in front of the courthouse was awkward. It's an even better proposition if there have been a handful of accidents there. A roundabout in front of the courthouse intersection would be perfect for a focal point such as a fountain, sculpture, monument. Heck, let's make it contentious and put up a civil war memorial.
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