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.
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.
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.”
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.