Love ’em or hate ’em, roundabouts have the benefit of reducing delay and improving traffic flow. They are also safer than intersections that rely on stop signs, and since speeding vehicles must slow down to navigate them, they serve as traffic-calming devices. Virtue Road will soon have a new roundabout, thanks to an unusual cost-sharing agreement between the town and Homestead Land Holdings, developers of Brookmere, a new subdivision on Virtue.
Virtue Road has long been considered unsafe, so plans to improve the road were drafted in 2017. Improvements will include two 11-foot lanes with curb and gutter and an eight-foot multi-use greenway. When the Farragut Municipal Planning Commission reviewed the plans, they added the roundabout as a traffic calming device. (One of the concerns about making a road straighter and wider is that motorists will use the improved road to cut five minutes off their commute.)
Virtue Road improvements came at just the wrong time for Brookmere developers, who want to present the subdivision at its best for potential homebuyers. But a cost-sharing agreement between the town and the developers resulted in a project that has proven to be positive for both parties.
“We pay for it and they build it,” says Matt Brazille, assistant town engineer. “The cost-sharing agreement allows the developer to begin construction earlier than planned so they can finish the entrance of the new subdivision.” Construction will include attractive landscaping – the kind that helps sell new homes.
If the town had built the roundabout, it would’ve been part of the larger road improvement project that isn’t scheduled to start until spring of 2020. Once it starts, Virtue Road will be closed for a year. The good news is that construction of the roundabout is expected to be completed by mid-September, three to four weeks ahead of schedule. That should allow normal use of Virtue for at least six months before other work begins.
Matt reminds those who are inconvenienced by future detours of the reasons for the enhancement of Virtue Road: “The changes will improve safety by eliminating blind curves and hills and provide walking and biking facilities. It will also improve the overall feel of the road.”
Roundabouts, whether you love ’em or hate ’em, are an attractive way to slow down drivers and avoid crashes. And even if you hate ’em, the new Virtue Road roundabout is a good example of how the town cooperates with those who do business in Farragut. We want everyone who lives and works here to be safe and successful.
Wendy Smith coordinates public relations and marketing for the town of Farragut.