VDOT tests new ‘mini’ roundabout in Annandale

A new kind of roundabout is being constructed in Annandale, the first of its kind in the region. If it's successful, you could see one in your neighborhood.

WASHINGTON — Jayhawk Street and Ravensworth Road meet just off Little River Turnpike in Annandale, Virginia. It used to be just like any other typical busy intersection in Northern Virginia.

But not anymore.

The junction is being used to stage a local example of a Virginia Department of Transportation pilot program for a “modular mini roundabout.”

Construction crews started work on the roundabout on May 17, and it will take about three weeks to complete the installation of the materials, which include recycled plastic bottles.

Right now, orange barrels and markings on the street are the only evidence of the project. But crews will work 12 hour shifts, six days a week, to complete the new traffic control system. Drivers are asked to take care driving through the area, as normal road speeds will be reduced while construction is going on.

Once in place, VDOT and the Federal Highway Administration will study the new roundabout to see if it does what it promises, and that is to provide “safety and traffic benefits to Annandale residents and drivers,” said Helen Cuervo, the state’s Northern District engineer.

If programs like this one in Annandale prove to be successful, the highway administration could put similar roundabouts in locations where “safety and congestion improvements are needed quickly,” said Dr. Wei Zhang, an intersection safety research engineer with the FHWA.

VDOT said each day, about 13,000 vehicles use Ravensworth Road, with another 2,600 per day crossing on Jayhawk Street. VDOT chose the intersection because of the traffic throughput, its closeness to a major artery, the width of the existing roadway and the chance to manage a bike lane and pedestrian crossings.

Tom Folse, a traffic engineer with VDOT, called it “an ideal location for the pilot.”

A mini roundabout has a smaller footprint, but works the same way as others in the region. VDOT reminds drivers to yield to traffic already in the circle as they approach.

If successful, the mini roundabout should provide a “safer driving, biking and walking experience for Ravensworth Road users,” said Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross. Learn more about the project on VDOT’s website.

WTOP’s Neal Augenstein contributed to this report.

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