Thursday, September 20, 2012

Is a traffic circle at Vermack & Womack the correct solution near Dunwoody High School? Meeting tonight.


The public meeting for the Womack at Vermack intersection project is set for this evening, September 20th from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Dunwoody High School cafeteria.  The meeting will be an open house style format.

I am told there will be two design proposals, a signalized intersection with left and right turn lanes or a roundabout.   I am interested in seeing the two drawings as what I personally drew above is definitely not to scale.


Womack/Vermack Intersection Upgrade Public Meeting
Dunwoody High School, 5035 Vermack Road
Tonight - Time: 6:00pm - 8:00pm

16 comments:

Joe Seconder said...

Traffic Circles are different from Roundabouts. Traffic Circles are an older, less efficient and less safe design than the modern roundabouts we now see being built across America and the World. For a video of Roswell's first roundabout go here:

http://youtu.be/uXVYwK7zM7o

For some other examples, local ideas and definition, go here: http://dunwoodynorth.blogspot.com/2010/08/could-dunwoody-become-city-of.html

Tom Dwyer said...

Keep it simple. Use a traffic light with a timer. It could flash red and be a four way stop during non-busy times.

Max said...

Dept of Transportation provides a full primer on roundabouts here:

http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/intersection/roundabouts/fhwasa10006/

Roundabouts make most of the traffic flow more smoothly, most of the time. No waiting for lights ever.

AS to cost:

"While initial construction costs might be higher for a roundabout in a retrofit situation (they are often comparable in new installations), the roundabout's ongoing maintenance is often cheaper than for signalized intersections, as there is typically no signal hardware to power, maintain, and keep current in terms of signal timing."

Abhi said...

Definitely the roundabout. It's more efficient and better looking.

Dunwoody Mom said...

In my view, traffic lights at this intersection would be pose a more dangerous situation. Most motorists tend not to understand the rules for crosswalks - as evidenced by the number of walkers hit or almost hit crossing any one of the crosswalks at that intersection. I can only imagine someone running a red light going "full speed" (and we know what that is on Womack) with a pedestrian in the cross walk.

Pattie Baker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daughter of the Poet said...

"Roundabout"

I'll be the roundabout
The words will make you out 'n' out
I'll spend the day your way...
Call it morning driving thru the sound and
In and out the valley...

The muses dance and sing
They make the children really ring
I'll spend the day your way
Call it morning driving thru the sound and
In and out the valley...

In and around the lake
Mountains come out of the sky
and they Stand there
One mile over we'll be there and we'll see you
Ten true summers we'll be there and
Laughing too
Twenty four before my love you'll see I'll be
There with you

I will remember you
Your silhouette will charge the view
Of distance atmosphere...
Call it morning driving thru the sound and
Even in the valley...

In and around the lake
Mountains come out of the sky
and they Stand there
One mile over we'll be there and we'll see you
Ten true summers we'll be there and
Laughing too
Twenty four before my love you'll see I'll be
There with you

Along the drifting cloud the eagle searching
Down on the land
Catching the swirling wind the sailor sees
The rim of the land
The eagle's dancing wings create as weather
Spins out of hand

Go closer hold the land feel partly no more
Than grains of sand
We stand to lose all time a thousand answers
By in our hand
Next to your deeper fears we stand
Surrounded by million years

I'll be the roundabout
The words will make you out 'n' out
I'll be the roundabout
The words will make you out 'n' out...

In and around the lake
Mountains come out of the sky they
Stand there
Twenty four before my love and I'll be
There...

I'll be the roundabout
The words will make you out 'n' out
We spend the day your way
Call it morning driving thru the sound and
In and out the valley... eh

In and around the lake
Mountains come out of the sky and they
Stand there
One mile over we'll be there and we'll see You
Ten true summers we'll be there and
Laughing too
Twenty four before my love you'll see I'll be
There with you...

Jon Anderson / Steve Howe

Todd Helton said...

Build it and they will come. Any change in the intersection that allows traffic to move through at a quicker pace will only bring more Cut-Through traffic. Looking at an overhead view of the Dunwoody rhombus, (Mount Vernon, Chamblee Dunwoody, Tilly Mill, Peeler), one can see how advantageous it is to cut through Vermack or Womack in order to gain easier access to Gwinnett County or North Fulton. By reducing the time it takes to get through the intersection, it will invite more traffic. Therefore, the traffic circle will fill up at the busiest times and will make the "traffic improvements" a moot point.

Pedestrian safety is another concern. At this time, the point is to actually stop at the intersection. With a traffic circle, there is no requirement to stop, only to yield to oncoming traffic. By looking over your left shoulder, you are not paying attention to pedestrians crossing the adjacent road on your right. In Michael Smith's own words, pedestrians are responsible for looking out for oncoming cars in the crosswalks. I find that troubling given that children at three schools use that crosswalk on a daily basis. I can guarantee someone will find a way to push 30 mph through the intersection. I can only imagine the "donut spins" around the roundabout.

I have not been privy to any complaints regarding the time it takes to get through the intersection. In the morning, the intersection is at waiting times from 7:30 to 8:15 at the latest. In the evening, it is not any worse than driving on the exterior roads at that time.

The responsible move would be to assign a police officer at the intersection in the A.M. to help children cross safely and to move traffic through. He could also be used during the evening Rush hour. This would definitely be safer for all pedestrians and would achieve the traffic dept's goal of unclogging traffic at peak times. The patrol officer would only be needed for a short period of time and I believe that the community would understand if he needed to leave for an emergency. In addition, this would be a considerable savings of taxpayer money.

The real issue on Vermack and Womack roads is the excessive speed witnessed on these roads. These plans do nothing to address this problem; they only exacerbate it. The speed limit should be reduced and enforced. If the speed limit on Ashford Center Parkway is 25mph, the speed limit can and should be reduced.

A "problem" that exists for only two hours per day does not merit such a disruptive plan that will utilize so many taxpayer dollars. There are bigger traffic problems in Dunwoody that need to be addressed first.

Max said...

At 5:30 last night I left Tilly/N P'tree for a 6PM meeting, took ten minutes to clear Womack/Vermach and Womack/Cham/Dun intersections, alone.

The 'build it and they will come' idea has to be tempered with the, "I live here, don't ride a bike to business meetings, and am sick of sitting in residential traffic because we don't want to do anything" aggravation.

Unlike a STOP light or sign, one cannot 'run' a roundabout. Further on pedestrian safety follows:

http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/intersection/roundabouts/fhwasa10006/

3.2 Pedestrians

Pedestrians are accommodated at pedestrian crosswalks around the perimeter of the roundabout. By providing space to pause on the splitter island, pedestrians can consider one direction of conflicting traffic at a time, which simplifies the task of crossing the street. The low vehicular speeds through a roundabout also allow more time for drivers and pedestrians to react to one another and to reduce the consequences of error. As a result, few crashes involving pedestrians have been reported at roundabouts [4].

Pedestrians with vision impairments may have more difficulty crossing roundabouts due to the following key factors:

Pedestrians with vision impairments may have trouble finding crosswalks because crosswalks are located outside the projection of approaching sidewalks and the curvilinear nature of roundabouts alters the normal audible and tactile cues they use to find crosswalks.
Roundabouts do not typically include the normal audible and tactile cues used by pedestrians with vision impairments to align themselves with the crosswalk throughout the crossing maneuver.
The sound of circulating traffic masks the audible cues that blind pedestrians use to identify the appropriate time to enter the crosswalk (both detecting a gap and detecting that a vehicle has yielded).

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that all new and modified intersections, including roundabouts, be accessible to and usable by people with disabilities. Further discussion on treatments can be found later in this technical summary and in the Roundabout Guide

This may or may not be the right place for a roundabout, but they sure make daily travel easier near Emory, St. Simon's and other places.

SDOC Publishing Internet Solutions said...

John--
No matter what solution gets implemented, there still has to be an investment in public education, including part that is specifically targeted toward GPC. If people are doing 50 on Womack or Vermack at some hours and others are burning through crosswalks not realizing you're supposed to stop when someone is in it, regardless of whether there is room to go around, they're going to cruise through a turn lane or roundabout just as recklessly.

You have a high school and a 2-year college on that street. That translates into a high proportion of inexperienced drivers who think that bad things can't happen to them.

Example: off of Tilly Mill a side street (name? Please?) that was modified to prevent right-hand turns from Tilly Mill and thus reduce cut-through traffic. But a week doesn't go by that some clown doesn't try to defeat it and drive through anyway.

There's more to improving traffic than buying studies from consultants and asphalt from contractors and we're not seeing that yet. Bob Fiscella's blog has an insightful recap from last night's meeting.

JerryGarcia said...

Hi Max, the link you posted shows a school traffic guard directing traffic for a pedestrian and it HAS a roundabout, in Section 4. Clearwater Florida may have realized the raoundabout was not able to handle young kids walking to school.

Max said...

JerryGarcia,

As I mentioned, this intersection may not be the best example for a roundabout.

One BIG roundabout disadvantage is their size - they will require more land than current intersections.

In this case, three homeowners and a portion of school property would need to be used.

John, how was this addressed in the meeting?

Max said...

John,

I did not see SDOC's comment and think Bob F. has the right idea, a part-time traffic officer!

http://dunwoodyusa.blogspot.com/

SDOC Publishing Internet Solutions said...

From today's Crier:
Question from the audience at the public meeting:
"Were you even aware that you were dealing with a nearby swim and tennis club and three schools when you were creating these designs?

Answer from engineers:

Unfortunately not. The traffic counts that I got from the city showed me some pedestrian volumes and that was all the information i got about pedestrians. Then we were asked after we did all the analysis if the roundabout or a signal was better for pedestirans. Taht was the fist I heard about safety for pedestrians."
....
"I wish we'd had this input before we did this analysis. The city did not ask."

I think "the city" and its council owes the citizens an explanation as to why they provided the 6-figure engineers with botched and incomplete data to analyze.

dpgroupie said...

I get your point DWG, and "the city" may indeed have some culpability, but wait.
Are these engineers so single-minded that they can't come up with all the variables and intangibles that are important enough to factor into their solution? Is this the first time they've done such a project? 6-figure engineers ought to be held somewhat accountable for doing their own "expert" analysis. Putting the entire blame on "the City" is just ridiculous, and I hope we don't use this firm again.

Joe Hirsch said...

Six speeding tickets were written this morning on Womack Road - during part of the time of day the city says they want to make traffic flow faster. And when it gets darker during the winter mornings, note that the pedestrian cross walks will no longer be at a stop sign. They are placed about 25 feet away from the proposed traffic circle - and drivers are expected to stop for the school children that are in their path.