A public hearing slated for June 7 will give residents living in the Brookhaven Heights neighborhood a chance to urge the Brookhaven City Council to approve a resolution to include partial closure of streets to prevent cut-through traffic.
The Brookhaven Heights Civic Association and city staff have been working together for approximately a year to find ways to cut down on cut-through traffic through the neighborhood.
Besides traditional traffic calming features include roundabouts and speed humps, residents in the neighborhood want to partially close access to and from the neighborhood from North Druid Hills and Standard Drive, Thornwell Drive and Oglethorpe Avenue. The roads would still be able to be accessed by emergency vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists.
Councilmember Linley Jones raised questions about the closure of public roads at the council’s May 24 work session.
“If Brookhaven Heights is allowed to close roads … why not allow other communities who also suffer from cut-through traffic to do so?” she asked. “Can our city work like that – if neighborhood by neighborhood closes roads and limits traffic?”
“This neighborhood is unique because it has so many entrances,” said Richard Meehan, Public Works director.
Meehan said most of the time, the main issue with cut-through traffic is speeding; in Brookhaven Heights, the main issue is the volume of cut-through traffic.
The idea of signage restricting access to the neighborhood was proposed, but Meehan said enforcing the restrictions would be too much of a burden on the police department.
Councilmember Bates Mattison, who represents the neighborhood, said while many neighborhoods offer cut-through paths, Brookhaven Heights traveled perhaps the heaviest. He also said the Waze mobile app readily directs traffic through neighborhoods so motorists can avoid heavy traffic on main thoroughfares.
“[The neighborhood] wants to diminish cut-through traffic going to I-85,” Mattison said, adding that cut-through traffic is “diminishing the neighborhood.”
Jones was still uneasy with the idea of a neighborhood being able to petition the city to close a public road and said a larger traffic plan and dispersing traffic to more roads might be a better way to find a solution to cut-through traffic.
“I know you said this is unique [to Brookhaven Heights], but it is common in District 1 and we have a number of neighborhoods who would be interested [in partial road closures] such as Sexton Woods and West Nancy Creek,” Jones said.
“We need a crackdown” on cut-through traffic, she added. “Let us as a city decide where to travel rather than Waze.”
Councilmember Joe Gebbia acknowledge he has used some of the cut-through roads in Brookhaven Heights and said traffic calming in the neighborhood would be a “band-aid” on the larger traffic problems in the city.
“We really need to take an overall look at what is going on in the city,” he said. “The majority of that traffic is coming from outside the city and leaving at the end of the day.”
Terrell Carstens, who lives in Brookhaven Fields, raised concern that the partial closing of roads in Brookhaven Heights would lead to even more cut-through traffic in her neighborhood.
“I like the idea of doing a test run on this to see what effect it may have on Brookhaven Fields,” she said. “This is trying to move the problem from one area to another.”
In addition to the road closures, Brookhaven Heights residents are seeking to install traffic calming measures including the installation of a neighborhood roundabout at the intersection of Oglethorpe Avenue and Colonial Drive and 12 more speed “tables” – large, flat humps.