Plans to install traffic lights or build a roundabout at the Dunwoody Club Drive/Jett Ferry Road intersection received a mixed reaction from residents that attended a Feb. 8 public meeting.
The cities of Sandy Springs and Dunwoody presented those two plans that they hope would curb the amount of wrecks at the intersection, which is on the cities’ border and is currently a four-way stop.
About 100 residents attended the open house meeting at Dunwoody Community Church. There wasn’t a clear favorite proposal from the crowd. Several residents’ concerns centered on making sure this project is necessary by doing a traffic study on the effectiveness of recently-installed flashing lights on the four stop signs in the intersection.
The roundabout would be a one-lane roundabout with a landscaped center median. It is designed to slow down traffic, but keep traffic flowing at a constant speed of around 15 mph, said Patricia Cooley, a consultant with engineering firm CALYX. The traffic signal plan would add dedicated left turn lanes to every side of the intersection. Each light would also have a left turn arrow, said Joe Gillis, the traffic manager for Sandy Springs projects funded under a transportation special local option sales tax.
Crosswalks would also be added to the two sides that don’t currently have them.
The roundabout is estimated to cost $1.5 million. The traffic light proposal would cost an estimated $1.2 million. The two cities plan to split the cost, Gillis said.
The project was mostly prompted by the amount of accidents in the intersection, Gillis said. Drivers don’t always completely stop at the signs, and they can be overlooked, he said.
Between 2014 and 2017, there were 40 accidents in the intersection, according to a handout distributed at the meeting.
“The big thing we have to look at is safety,” Dunwoody Mayor Denis Shortal said at the meeting.
Sandy Springs Councilmember John Paulson, like many residents, said he wants a study done to determine if the flashing, solar-powered lights that were installed last December have been effective at alerting drivers to the stop signs.
The intersection is neighbored on the west by a residential area and immediately surrounded by a Chevron gas station, a CVS pharmacy and a Kroger supermarket. On the northwest corner of the intersection is the Dunwoody Country Club and a “butterfly garden” that is maintained by the Spalding Garden Club, which is concerned by the plans because they would destroy part of the garden.
The cities would have to negotiate with those commercial property owners for right of way they would need for both projects. However, neither project would need to take any property from residential owners, according to the designs.
Barbara Meehan, the chair of the Spalding Garden Club, which has maintained the garden between the Dunwoody Country Club and the intersection since 1989, said she is concerned by how much of the garden could be lost if the plans move forward.
“We think it should be considered when they are making decisions,” Meehan said.
Sixty feet of the front of the garden and 12 feet on the sides of the garden would be removed in either plan, Cooley said.
Paulson said he will wait to review resident feedback before choosing a preferred proposal, but said he is not averse to the idea of a roundabout like some are.
“I’m not afraid of roundabouts,” he said.
A nearby Sandy Springs resident, Lucy Lansky, said she thought a roundabout could not handle the high traffic in that area. She feared a roundabout would cause more accidents due the amount of cars that travel through the intersection.
“I am not an expert, but I think a roundabout is better for light traffic,” she said.
But she said she supports the plan to add traffic signals, saying the stop signs do not move traffic through quickly enough and can be dangerous.
“The stop signs are not good enough,” she said.
Gillis could not provide exact numbers on how each plan would improve traffic compared to the current conditions, but said both proposals would provide enough of an improvement to be considered viable solutions.
Another Sandy Springs resident, Bob Barnaby, said he favors the roundabout proposal because it would keep traffic flowing and would not be subject to signal timing issues.
Comments on the proposals can be emailed to email@example.com.
CORRECTION: This story incorrectly said the roundabout would be two lanes. It would instead be one lane.