Dunwoody City Council members are conflicted over plans to narrow Dunwoody Village Parkway.
The city’s master plan calls for the road, which runs though the center of the Dunwoody Village shopping center, to be reduced from four lanes to two. The move would allow space for the construction of sidewalks and bike lanes as well as lighting and landscaping to make the area easier for pedestrians to use.
The Dunwoody Village Master Plan describes the commercial center as the civic “heart” of Dunwoody. With its location near the intersection of two major roads – Mount Vernon and Chamblee-Dunwoody – the village is envisioned to develop more of a “downtown feel” in the future.
A the council’s Aug. 13 meeting, council members delayed voting on an agreement with the Georgia Department of Transportation for a federal Transportation Enhancement Grant because some just weren’t confident about the project.
Councilman Terry Nall said he is unable to justify spending millions of dollars to reduce lanes on Dunwoody Village Parkway when there are other busy intersections in need of improvements.
“We have higher project priorities to me in Dunwoody to reduce our traffic congestion issues,” Nall said. “I just think the funds we’re putting into this are sorely needed elsewhere.”
City officials say the project is more about economic development and revitalizing Dunwoody Village than improving traffic.
City Manager Warren Hutmacher called the changes to Dunwoody Village Parkway a “potentially transformative” project for the commercial center.
“I think the answer is you build your infrastructure first, make your investment, and the private sector will follow,” Hutmacher said.
Councilwoman Adrian Bonser said she has heard from many of her constituents who think it’s a bad idea.
“I feel like staff is trying to sell us on this, but council is listening to our constituents and our constituents don’t want us to spend $2.5 million on this,” Bonser said.
Bonser suggested using traffic cones to block off two lanes to see how the community responds.
Bill Grant, former chairman of the Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce, said he thinks reducing the number of lanes on Dunwoody Village Parkway would be a burden for businesses.
“If you start taking it down from four lanes to two you’re going to impede traffic,” Grant said.
Grant said he also takes issue with removing the center median on the parkway because he believes it is a big part of the village’s character.
Mayor Mike Davis said there are many problems with the road as it stands now: “you can’t walk on an inch of it,” he said, because there are no sidewalks. It’s difficult for cars to pull out into traffic, Davis said, and many drivers go faster than the speed limit.
“I believe in the economic development of it, but I want to see a lot more excitement from the people that would benefit from it,” Davis said.
Councilman Doug Thompson said he thinks the current plan is the best way to solve all of the problems that the community has with Dunwoody Village Parkway.
“I just don’t think I can second guess our engineers. What I hear is ‘I don’t like this aspect of the plan so let’s throw it out’,” Thompson said. “Sometimes I think we listen to the naysayers too much. If we want to solve the issues that are out there we’ve got the key.”
Council members plan to continue the discussion at its Aug. 27 meeting.