Two 4-way stops added for heavy foot traffic around Patriot Circle

Stop signs have been added to Mattaponi River Lane and York River Road, above.

Drivers and pedestrian beware. Keep your eyes peeled for new traffic patterns along George Mason University’s Patriot Circle.

At the Patriot Circle intersections of York River Road as well as Mattaponi River Lane, new 4-way stops have been added to enhance safety for both drivers and pedestrians.

Director of Parking and Transportation Josh Cantor said in an e-mail interview that the changes have been in the works since last winter.

“Since January, the University has been working on a master transportation and traffic master plan led by Parking & Transportation and Facilities,” Cantor said.

“The master planning process has focused on all modes of transportation - vehicles, shuttles, biking, walking . . . [as well as] looking at safety, efficiency, accessibility, way finding, and traffic management among other things. As part of this plan, we have been working on pedestrian crosswalks and how they fit with where we ultimately want major pedestrian paths across campus to be.”

Vanasse Hangen Bristlin, a transportation planning consulting firm, has been assisting Mason was this endeavor.

According to Cantor, VHB worked for weeks collecting data about vehicle and pedestrian traffic at every crosswalk and roadway during the spring semester. From this data, VHB concluded that there was heavy car and foot traffic around York River Road and Mattaponi River Lane. As a result of these findings those locations were chosen for 4-way stop intersections.

However, for the time being these are the only two intersections getting the change, although recommendations will continue to be submitted.

As for adverse affects to traffic, such as congestion, Cantor does not believe that the changes will do anything negative.

“Traffic should not be negatively impacted, while pedestrian crossings will be better. Many other future areas of campus roads are being looked at in conjunction with future campus and regional projects that are aimed at enhancing the flow of traffic. As part of this summer's restriping, bike lanes are being placed around most of Patriot Circle in an effort to enhance bicycle safety and use. Again the master plan aims at balancing many different modes of travel,” said Cantor.

Last spring, pedestrian safety at Mason was brought to the forefront after Michelle Dawson, a Mason student, was struck by a car in a crosswalk, leaving her in critical condition. Cantor said that the changes to the intersection were not in light of this event.

“The University is always working on traffic, pedestrian, and transportation issues and for a while have been looking at combining many efforts into a comprehensive master plan, especially given the growth of campus and the increasing complexity of these issues with more students, more resident students, and more people in general coming to campus, including for major events...." said Cantor.

"Everything being worked on has been worked on in the past—the beauty though of the master plan is comprehensively looking at these multiple topics instead of making project by project or snap decisions based on an incident—it’s looking at how various things effect each other and what works best in the short and long term,” said Cantor.




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