Committee scraps roundabout at North Street and Mission Boulevard

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A previously suggested roundabout at North Street and Mission Boulevard does not have the support needed to be built.

City staff had included a roundabout at the intersection in preliminary design ideas for improvements to the Mission Boulevard corridor.

The corridor is considered an important connection for pedestrian and bicycle traffic in east Fayetteville. There’s no current infrastructure to handle alternative transportation on Mission Boulevard between Viewpoint Drive and Maple Street where on-street routes connect to downtown.

It’s also a key project in connecting a planned bikeway from the Razorback Greenway to the Old Wire Cycle Track and Gulley Park, which eventually tie back into the greenway in north Fayetteville.

In 2019, the Toole Design Group provided a bicycle strategy for Fayetteville which recommended several enhancement projects and suggested a possible roundabout at North and Mission.

After studying the idea, however, city staff have a different recommendation.

Chris Brown, the city’s director of public works, said an improved traffic signal is now the top choice.

Brown said while a traffic analysis from engineering firm Crafton Tull shows that a roundabout would function better than a traffic signal today, when calculating expected traffic flow 30 years from now, the analysis showed that an improved signal might actually be a better fit.

“They’re pretty similar,” he said. “The roundabout functions better in some instances, and the signal is better in others.”

City of Fayetteville / Enlarge image

But when considering pedestrians and cyclists, Brown said a traffic signal could allow for safer navigation of the intersection since it would completely stop traffic to allow walkers and bike riders to cross.

“With a roundabout, traffic is always moving and there can be less gaps,” he said. “And for younger users, roundabouts may be more difficult.”

Public comment shows that residents don’t favor a roundabout either.

“The consensus from many, many comments is that there wasn’t a traffic problem there and there weren’t many concerns about congestion,” said Brown.

Over 760 comments were received after the city issued a call for public input on the project. While feedback about the improvements was mostly positive, the idea of a roundabout was not very popular.

Nearly 60% of respondents were opposed to a roundabout, while almost 31% were in support. About 9% said they don’t oppose or support the idea.

Brown said city staff may also recommend some alterations to the intersection that would reduce the street crossing distances. Even with those changes, however, an improved signal would be significantly less expensive than constructing a roundabout.

Brown presented the findings to the City Council’s Transportation Committee last week, and the committee members voted unanimously to scrap the roundabout in favor of an updated signal.

“I wasn’t really sold on the roundabout anyway,” said Council Member Sarah Bunch.