Lafayette/Kenmore intersection

A roundabout could be on the way for Kenmore Avenue and Lafayette Bvld.

OK, all you circle-phobes out there, please make sure you’re sitting before proceeding.

Ready?

Deep breath.

A roundabout is coming to Lafayette Boulevard, at the entrance of the Fredericksburg Battlefield just up the hill from the Blue and Gray Parkway intersection.

Have you stopped screaming yet?

Good. It will be OK.

Yes, it seems an odd choice to build a roundabout so close to a busy intersection, but this isn’t about improving traffic, per se. It’s part of the new development on the west side of Lafayette, where all of the earth is being moved.

That project, which will be a mix of residential and commercial, isn’t exactly new. The city approved rezoning for that land back in 2014, but plans went on hiatus for reasons that are unimportant here.

The point is that the project is back on and the developer is required to both build the roundabout and widen the stretch of Lafayette to four lanes from the Blue and Gray intersection up the hill to St. Paul Street, according to Mike Craig with the city’s planning department.

Those two lanes each way will feed into the roundabout, which will also have two lanes. Traffic will use one lane from the park and the new development to enter the roundabout.

The Lafayette roundabout looks like it will be similar to the roundabout on Fall Hill Avenue, only a good bit bigger. The hill on Lafayette will be graded near the roundabout, which also was done on Fall Hill, making it easier for traffic to slow down before entering the circle.

There were cries of the sky falling when the Lafayette roundabout was proposed the first time. The same thing happened when the Fall Hill roundabout was proposed, but that seems to have turned out fine (for drivers who actually know how to navigate a circle, anyway).

Fredericksburg Councilman Matt Kelly said they’ve been talking about building a roundabout on Lafayette for a decade.

“It’ll work,” he said. “It makes it a nice gateway to the city.”

Craig said the road plan will have to be approved first, but clearing has already begun, and work should soon start on the Lafayette widening and the roundabout, which will have to be completed before the development work starts.

Don’t get up just yet, circle-phobes. There’s more.

Another roundabout will be built on Lafayette at Kenmore Avenue, that weird puzzle of an intersection that can confound the best of drivers.

That roundabout project made the cut through the state’s latest round of the Smart Scale program.

The schedule for that work is unclear, so it might be a while before that roundabout happens.

In the meantime, let’s try to embrace the circle.

Isn’t that what life’s all about?

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Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436 sshenk@freelancestar.com

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