Dunwoody’s new comprehensive transportation plan is officially in the books after a unanimous vote of approval from the City Council.
Earlier versions of the plan had raised concerns. Councilmembers worried over the definitions of “multi-modal” and “multi-use” and residents argued that proposed bike paths and trails would take out large swaths of people’s yards.
Before the council voted on Sept. 18 to adopt the plan, resident Cheryl Summers, who lives on Tilly Mill Road, spoke out forcefully against two specific planned projects considered top priorities: a multi-modal path on the north side of Peeler Road and Tilly Mill Road, from North Peachtree Road to Winters Chapel Road; and a multi-modal facility on Tilly Mill Road from Mount Vernon Road to Womack Road.
The plan originally stated these projects would be “multi-use” paths, requiring at least 10-foot-wide sidewalks. The plan approved by the mayor and council on Sept. 18 now describes the projects as “multi-modal,” a broader term that would allow painted bike lanes.
Summers said a “minority group of citizens” wanted multi-use paths to allow cyclists to ride on a separate path, rather than on a busy road. And, she said, the plans would mean taking more than a dozen feet from her front yard.
“Now you want to take 16 to 18 feet of my front yard at a minimum,” she said. “I don’t care if it’s legally the right-of-way. We are expected to maintain [the property] and we consider it our front yard. We don’t want that taken away so someone can put in an ugly 12-foot wide path. That belongs in the park. Not in my front yard.”
City Councilmember Terry Nall, who objected to the words “multi-use paths” for the projects Summers mentioned, said he was pleased with the inclusion of “multi-modal” to describe these projects. He said that because of those words, when the actual projects come up for design and construction, they must go through community discussions and a council vote before anything can be built.
The two Tilly Mill projects were also moved to the long-term project list, meaning the earliest they would be considered is in six years.
More than 20 projects are proposed in the updated plan. They are to be developed over 20 years.
Mayor Denis Shortal raised concerns about the estimated costs of the projects, which range from tens of thousands of dollars to millions.
“These are Monopoly numbers,” he said. “I mean, it’s nice to have a plan, but when you’re looking at these numbers, you’re looking at over $100 million. That just doesn’t make good common sense. We just don’t have that funding.”
The new approved intersection projects include:
- Improve the intersection of Chamblee-Dunwoody Road at Womack Road by adding westbound left and right turn lanes.
- Extend the dual eastbound left turn lanes at Meadow Lane at Ashford-Dunwoody Road.
- Construct an eastbound left turn lane within the median at the intersection of Meadow Lane and Ridgeview Road.
- Construct a westbound right turn lane on Peachford Road at North Shallowford Road.
- Construct left turn lanes on Mount Vernon Road at Dunwoody Station/Trailridge Drive.
- Roberts Drive Improvements for Austin Elementary School Relocation at Chamblee-Dunwoody Road to Dunwoody Knoll Road: Turn lanes and new signal at school entrance; incorporates bicycle and pedestrian improvements.
Other approved projects are intended to increase connectivity throughout the city include:
- Implement multi-modal enhancements on Ashford Center Parkway to combine pedestrian enhancements, such as mid-block crossings.
- Construct a multi-modal path that connects North Peachtree Road and Winters Chapel Road via Peeler Road and Tilly Mill Road.
- Construct a multi-use trail system between the Withmere neighborhood, from Withan Drive, to Dunwoody Park and Austin Elementary School.
- Coordinate with the cities of Peachtree Corners and Doraville to construct multi-modal improvements on the Ga. 141/Peachtree Industrial Boulevard frontage road.
- Construct a multi-modal facility on Tilly Mill Road between Womack Road and Mount Vernon Road.
The approved multi-modal design policy states it is the city’s desire to create a community wide pedestrian and bicycle network; establish programs and road standards to encourage use of the network; increase network connectivity; promote travel demand management; preserve the system through effective maintenance; and support regional efforts related to transit service.
“All of these efforts are to provide choice and increase mobility for all users,” the transportation plan document states. “Within this document, ‘multi-modal’ projects are projects that intend to provide dedicated space for pedestrians and bicyclists (and other non-vehicular traffic) within the typical section. The types of facilities or dimensions will be defined during the concept development phase for each project.”
The minimum multi-modal design standards to be considered include:
- When adding or relocating curb and gutter on arterial and collector roads, projects should include a preferred lane width of 11 feet with 4-foot bike lanes.
- When restriping to accommodate bike lanes as part of a resurfacing project on arterial and collector roads, the preferred lane width is 11 feet with 4-feet bike lanes.
- Projects identified to include multi-modal elements along existing right-of-way are encouraged to incorporate pedestrian and bicycle facilities that are separated from vehicles by distance and/or physical barrier. The implementation of these preferred elements will be balanced with the constraints of the surrounding land use and environment.