Getting cars off the roads and repaving city streets dominated the goals outlined by mayors of three Perimeter-area cities as they lunched with local business leaders.
Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul told members of the Perimeter Business Alliance that Perimeter cities could eliminate traffic congestion by removing 10 percent of the cars on the roads. He said the cities must “think outside the box” when it comes to fixing traffic congestion and Chamblee Mayor Eric Clarkson and Dunwoody Mayor Denis Shortal seemed to agree.
“I get teased a little bit about gondolas and monorails,” Paul said Feb. 19 during the PBA’s “Perimeter Mayor’s Panel: Priorities and Focus Areas for 2016.” “But we have to think [about ways of moving people around the area] not just in two dimensions. We have to think in 3-D.”
Paul said that every day, commuters make 102,000 trips into Sandy Springs from the outside and start 84,000 trips in Sandy Springs and head outside the city. Only 7,000 trips start and end within the city, he said. “This is a very transient area,” he said.
At the same time, 70 percent of the city’s residents said that if they could easily get where they needed to go using alternative transportation, “they would rather not get in cars,” he said. “Reduce current vehicular traffic by 10 percent and congestion melts away,” Paul said.
Clarkson said his city, which has grown from about 10,000 residents to 28,000 since 2010, has learned to promote itself as a “walkable” community around a MARTA station rather than simply as a city connected to a major highway. “We continuing that journey of reinventing Chamblee,” he said.
Shortal said the major push in Dunwoody is toward repaving the city’s streets, which he said were in bad repair when the city was founded. “The number one concern in our city is roads, paving roads,” he said. “We started paving roads in 2010 and we started out behind.”
By the end of the year, he said, the city will have repaved 36 percent of its streets. City officials hope to get on a 20-year repaving cycle, he said.
Like the other two mayors, Shortal said the cities should think regionally about dealing with transportation problems and should work with other organizations, including the state Department of Transportation.
“Alternative transportation is a thing we’ve got to talk about,” Shortal said, citing increasing trails, promoting rental “bike sharing” and increasing the frequency of MARTA rides.