New roundabout has eliminated congestion, says Fredericton traffic engineer

The Victoria Circle roundabout has been open for about five weeks, and Fredericton traffic engineer Jon Lewis says it's already lowering congestion at peak times.

"Congestion has been effectively eliminated," said Lewis. "It flows extremely well. In the evening there are some backups from the bridge but certainly in terms of traffic flow it's much better than back when it was signalized."

But Lewis said some drivers are still making one mistake when going through the new roundabout.

"The vast majority of people are driving correctly through the roundabout," he said. "The one small issue we're seeing is some people are still changing lanes inside the roundabout.

"We've got a new education video that's coming out that will try and reiterate that point about choosing your lane and making sure you stay in it as you travel through the roundabout."

Lewis said that was the main problem when the roundabout first opened on Nov. 21. He said once a vehicle is in the roundabout, it shouldn't change lanes. 

The new roundabout differs from the roundabout at the top of Smythe Street, as the lanes shift from being on the inside to being on the outside lane. 

Lewis said lane changing was a problem with the Smythe Street circle as well, so this time around the city put in more durable pavement markings to get people to stay in their lanes at Victoria Circle.

Reducing injuries

So far the city is only aware of one collision since Victoria Circle opened. Lewis said it was a minor sideswipe involving two vehicles with no injuries. 

"Under the signal light intersection perspective, it was one of the higher locations for collisions and there was a lot of injury collisions as well," said Lewis.

"With a roundabout, you'd still expect there to be some collisions but generally they're very minor in scope, typically side swipe collisions which is what we saw here."

Lewis said the change from traffic lights to a roundabout has also made crossing the busy spot a lot safer and easier for pedestrians.

City of Fredericton

According to the city, it took about 3½ minutes to cross from one corner of the intersection to the other when there were traffic lights. With the roundabout, Lewis said it takes half the time. 

"It's a tremendous improvement from a pedestrian safety and mobility perspective," said Lewis. 

The Victoria Circle project cost about $3 million to build, with the province paying $748,000 as it's part of a provincial highway. The project also involved replacing underground infrastructure, such as water, sewer and storm lines.