Monday, December 14, 2015

Dunwoody - Could a series of Neighborhood Traffic Circles in the intersections help slow North Peachtree Road?

Could a series of small neighborhood traffic circles on North Peachtree (at Sandell Drive, Saffron Drive & North Peachtree Way) slow the speeding problem along this down hill route?

Neighborhood traffic circles are circular islands, typically found at the intersection of two residential streets, used to reduce vehicular speeds through the intersection. Traffic circles are not intended to be a stop control device and are different from roundabouts. Traffic circles should be considered at residential intersections that are wide enough for vehicles to travel in a circular direction and where speeding is a persistent problem.  The center of a traffic circle can be used for landscaping or other uses, as long as it does not limit vehicular sight distance.

If this is a viable solution after an engineering study and reviewing the affects on Emergency Services, the current traffic calming policy requires a 65% approval rating from the "affected" residents all of whom would need to pay an additional fee / tax of $25.00.   If speed data and traffic studies show that traffic calming is needed, shouldn't the city be willing to install these devices for the greater good of all?   Today that is not the case.

Tonight (Monday) the City Council will be reviewing the City's traffic calming policy at my request whereby we have only had one successful application out of the nineteen initiated to make its way through the full process.  I keep coming back to the speeding issues identified on North Peachtree (that I am sure also happen in other parts of the city) and how can we the elected officials assist in finding ways to solve these problems while being assured that we don't cause more or different problems to be raised?

I was informed by our Public Works Director that the South bound section of North Peachtree coming from Mt. Vernon to at least Saffron Drive met the threshold that 85% of the drivers are driving in excess of 11 mph over the 25 mph limit. On a two lane, heavily traveled residential road; I see these speeds far in excess of the maximum posted speed as unacceptable, yet the current traffic calming policy stops me from recommending possible solutions from a City perspective as the current policy states that this is a resident driven initiative.

Under the current policy, the city requires 20% of "affected" residents must be polled to request that the area be studied and then a traffic calming report is drafted by the city, after that 65% of the "affected" residents will need to approve the measures to be installed and then each of the "affected" residents will need to pay $25 per year, every year going forward in order to pay for the installation and maintenance of the measures installed.   Mr. Thomas O'Brien of the Dunwoody North Neighborhood documented his attempt at getting traffic calming devices on his street and in the end, little was done except a little more enforcement where allowed.

The definition of affected area is hard to pin point and if an expanded area is defined by the city, this could work against the community hoping to get this measure approved.  Also getting 65% approval from the owners of the property is a very difficult task when dealing with renters, owners in assisted living, divorced spouses who's name is still on the title and retirees on a fixed income who can't afford the additional $25.00 annual expense.  As a City who encourages aging in place, it should be acknowledged that fixed income seniors who might otherwise support a calming plan will likely be disproportionately affected by the $25 perpetual charge on the affected area residents for the improvements.

In talking to residents who currently live on a street with speed humps, I am told that the residents of this street pay collectively about $1,000.00 per year and that the installation from 5 years ago should have paid off the cost of installation with little or no maintenance in this time frame.   Is the $25.00 now being paid by the residents just an additional tax because they live on a popular cut thru street?

Another issue that we are dealing with in attempting to slow traffic on North Peachtree is as follows...   The posted speed limit is only 25 mph and state law states that local jurisdictions can not ticket until the driver's speed exceeds 10 mph over the limit (35 mph) on flat ground but there is also a rule that states there can not be enforcement on steep down hill slopes (like parts of North Peachtree) no matter what the speed; therefore these state regulations hinder our officers enforcement efforts at traffic calming.  At one time, I started a conversation regarding lowering the speed limits on some streets but this effort went nowhere except initiating some interesting conversation.

I am under the belief that something needs to be done to cut down the speeding on North Peachtree, but the state has tied our hands on reasonable enforcement and our own traffic calming policy appears to be to onerous for implementation, therefore I am hopeful that something will change soon.

I don't have all of the answers, but I enjoy being part of the conversation.