Business, Traffic, and more Business: The Reason Behind the Roundabout

So for my inaugural post, I’ll be exploring a side of Morgantown that often goes unnoticed by the downtown-based student population: Suncrest. This side of town is continually growing thanks to Morgantown’s increasing post-grad population, and a new addition to the infrastructure has the town (wrongfully) up in arms. I want to explore why.

Location, Location

While Google Maps puts the Suncrest neighborhood somewhere near the Arby’s on Patteson, colloquial use has expanded the name’s reach to define most of the area on the outside of the WVU Hospitals Complex. This is due to the influence of the newly-minted Suncrest Towne Centre, a strip mall featuring boutiques, restaurants (one of which may be promoting the exploitation of women), hotels and the WVU Dental Clinic. This place is exploding: new venues keep opening, and some have already become local favorites – here’s looking at you, Sonic.

Photo from STC's website.

Photo from STC’s website.

There’s no wonder the area is booming. The centre, or “Suncrest,” is an oasis of businesses aimed at townies and post graduates. The area isn’t easily accessible on foot, nor is it close to Morgantown’s student-dependent downtown area. The result is a beautiful business Shangri-la with lots of parking and easy access from I-68.

Morgantown’s Second Downtown

The Mileground used to be the “student-free” business haven townies always dreamed of – at least before the Blue Parrot moved in. Now it seems that the city is putting a lot of interest in development around Suncrest, from the large, family-oriented apartments across the street to the months-long construction project that expanded route 705 to four lanes.

Obviously the city is preparing for population and business expansion in Suncrest. It’s no wonder why they’re so hot – look, it’s spelled Towne Centre! So chic!

This expansion inspired the city to build better infrastructure around 705. This project also led to the construction of a traffic-flow phenomenon known as “The Roundabout.”

Image from wboy.com

Image from wboy.com

A roundabout is a type of intersection that utilizes a circular traffic pattern and selective yielding to promote constant, safe traffic flow. The roundabout built on the intersection of 705 and Mileground road replaced a traffic light which, as any local driver knows, was prone to brutal traffic.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, roundabouts are a much safer and much more efficient solution to traffic lights. Plus these roundabouts are much cheaper to build and maintain, considering they require no lights. Because stopping is less common, roundabouts promote the constant flow of traffic from all directions.

This roundabout is going to be excellent for businesses in the Suncrest area because it’s going to prevent mood-killing midday traffic, allow for more cars to travel on 705, and generally promote transit throughout the area. More people means more business, which is great news for everybody.

And seriously, Europe’s been using these things since like 1909. It’s about time we wizened up. And maybe that’s why…

People Really, REALLY, Hate the Roundabout

Literally every person I’ve heard talk about the roundabout hates it. And for no real good reason, either – I’ve heard people claim:

1. It doesn’t help traffic. False.

2. It’s less safe: False.

3. It’s more expensive than a traffic light: False.

4. It’s going to cause more traffic accidents: False.

5. It’s European and therefore inferior. European: True. Inferior: xenophobia is so 18th century, folks.

I’m going to point out an enraging, terribly reported and generally intellectually offensive opinion article in the Daily Athenaeum that challenges the effectiveness of the roundabout, because the writer said all of the above and is completely, unabashedly wrong. Like, do you even have a car?

Roundabout loves you – why not love Roundabout?

Let’s reiterate why we should all love the roundabout and what it brings to our community. Later this week, my fellow bloggers are going to explore the specifics for me, so stay tuned.

1. Suncrest is getting bigger and we need better traffic patterns. In like fifteen years that roundabout is going to be the best thing that’s happened to the mileground and 705, considering by then people will be skilled at navigating it.

2. It’s safer, cheaper and more reliable. God knows we don’t need more traffic accidents – 20 people a day die in intersection collisions.

3. Small businesses all across that part of town are going to benefit from increased traffic flow. Small business is the lifeblood of our town, and we need to support them in any way possible. This includes infrastructure.

Please learn to love the roundabout, and learn how to navigate it. The effectiveness of the design relies on the quick and efficient navigation of it’s travelers, so please be kind to the confused old people you might see driving the wrong way around it. Honestly though, if you just follow the signs and yield, you’ll discover that the roundabout might be the panacea to Morgantown’s brutal traffic problems.

I think time will sway the nonbelievers.

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7 thoughts on “Business, Traffic, and more Business: The Reason Behind the Roundabout

  1. Nice post, but it’s really TWO posts! You do a good job linking to information AND discussion. The first grafs, however, are kind of a false sell because the meat is really about the Roundabout. That discussion is done quite well – I especially like the True/False treatment – but it could have been more clearly the focus, with the Suncrest Towne Centre (those e’s…) left for another time. Remember my caution from class: Keep these rich, but don’t burn through multiple stories in a single post.

  2. Pingback: Morgantown Problems | The Mileground Roundabout: Is it Safer?

  3. I have heard a lot about the roundabout, living up in Morgantown over the summer ,both good and bad(mostly bad), but after using it nearly every day and reading this post I agree with a lot of you comments. I agree that a lot of students and residents have a misconstrued view of what the round about actually is and does. I feel it it actually more efficient than the traffic light that was once there but it may not be quite as safe; especially for drivers that are not use to roundabouts. .

  4. Bryan,

    This is a good start for our blog. I honestly have not been in Suncrest since the city implemented the use of the roundabout, but this blog gave me a lot of information on why people like (and don’t like) it.

    I think that this post honestly could have been broken into two separate, very informative posts. I’d like to know more about the Suncrest Towne Centre itself and why it is such a prime new spot for shopping, eating, etc. Also, you mentioned something about The Tilted Kilt. I have heard the arguments against it, but I think the issue of exploitation of women at this establishment could be another topic for you to discuss in the future. I would be interested in knowing the differing opinions of Morgantown residents.

  5. I agree with Maddi. This is a great post to start our group blog off with. I thought the true and false section was extremely clever and made it easier for people to understand certain discussion points of the roundabout. I think one thing you could’ve done to reinforce your points is to talk to some local business owners and get quotes on how it affected them directly or how it will impact them directly or quotes from citizens who will use the businesses in the area now more or less due to the roundabout. I think that would have added a nice community angle. Otherwise I loved this post. I thought it was great!

  6. I really love this post. I had hardly any qualms with the roundabout, but I often hear people griping about it. I think it can probably be chalked up to ignorance and fear of changing normal patterns of living. There are so many things about this post that draw me in. The bolded headers fend of my ADD mind and keep me intrigued (like reading a book with short chapters makes it easier to not get overwhelmed by the length). You link to awesome an credible sources. Dr. Britten is true that the first two grafs are slightly misleading, but the article as a whole is great! Next time someone tries telling me the roundabout is dumb and inefficient I’ll point them here.

  7. Pingback: Morgantown Problems | Morgantown’s Roundabout: Poor Planning on the Mileground

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