Businesses counting on Falls detour; new roundabout confuses drivers


A new traffic plan for Lee Highway in Bristol, Virginia is already causing problems for drivers.

Police said the new roundabout next to Aldi is confusing people. And they are worried the problem will only get worse, once a long-term detour begins.

Starting this weekend, drivers will be redirected through the Falls retail development and the roundabout, while crews work on widening Lee Highway.

While it may be a headache for some on the road, businesses hope it will bring in a big boost.

It's a simple idea that's common in bigger cities. But this is a first in Bristol, Virginia.

"To me it's like a carousel, you get on it in the circle, you go around," Capt. Maynard Ratcliff said.

But police are quickly finding out it's not that easy.

"We see a lot of people, either they don't understand it, or it confuses them, or they just don't want to adhere to the traffic pattern," Ratcliff said.

Aldi shopper Regina Armes admitted she was lost the first time she saw this.

"I didn't know which way to go," she said. "It wasn't really clear."

And Armes said she's not the only one who feels this way.

"I watched today, instead of going all the way around the roundabout, people are going just barely up there, turning left," she said. "And that's going to cause accidents."

Police said the best thing to do is to just follow the signs.

"People are just unfamiliar with it, I guess," Ratcliff said. "And there's no need to be intimidated by it."

Retailers at the Falls agreed.

"If you're not comfortable with the roundabout, go to Exit 5, come through that way," senior floor manager at Cabela's Rashid Elkhiat said.

And they're counting on this detour to bring in more traffic in hopes those extra cars will translate into extra sales.

"Some of them might see the sign for Cabela's and that will actually help route them in here quicker," he said. "That would probably be the best thing. We're excited about having more traffic come through."

Police said they will be monitoring traffic at the roundabout on Saturday. You can expect the detour to last until August 2018.

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