By John Schaffner
Former Atlanta Mayor Sam Massell, the ceremonial mayor of Buckhead, refers to the traffic calming devices put in place along Lindbergh Drive and Peachtree Hills Avenue as “Buckhead’s answer to Six Flags.”
The Buckhead Coalition president swears they cause more traffic problems and accidents rather than solving traffic problems.
Some residents along East Wesley in the Garden Hills neighborhood of Buckhead agree and have planted bright yellow and red signs in front of their homes proclaiming the “traffic calming” streetscape construction now going on along their thoroughfare to be a “bad design.”
In fact, one or more anonymous residents have put flyers in their neighbors’ mailboxes stating “SAVE East Wesley.” It proclaims that the proposed design to be “dangerous” for “children walking and parents with strollers, for bicyclists and for drivers.”
The flyer asks residents to “join your fellow neighbors in supporting safe traffic calming.” It says the reconstructing of East Wesley Road is a $1.3 million mistake that “can and must be revised before it proceeds to completion.”
Jean Sterrett, who lives at 388 East Wesley Road, agrees with the sentiment of the flyer and claims the unknown writer of the flyer would build a lot more support for the cause if only neighbors knew who put out the flyer.
Sterrett agrees with points made on the flyer that the proposed design will make the road unnecessarily narrow, creating safety hazards.
East Wesley, becomes West Wesley on the other side of Peachtree Road, is a major east-west road between the Moores Mill area of northwest Buckhead and Piedmont Road.
While Lindbergh Drive is a major connector route between Peachtree and Piedmont Roads it does not extend beyond Peachtree Road to the west, but connects on the east over to Cheshire Bridge Road. Peachtree Hills Avenue, however, is more of a residential neighborhood street, except that it is used by drivers who wish to avoid the intersection of Peachtree Road and Lindbergh Drive and use it as a cut-through from Lindbergh to Peachtree Road.
The flyer related to the East Wesley streetscape project claims that with narrow 11-foot lanes traffic will continually be blocked by mail delivery trucks, commercial delivery vehicles, garbage and recycling trucks, lawn service vehicles, illegally parked vehicles and vehicles picking up passengers.
“The zig-zag design brings the road right next to children and others walking on the new sidewalk in many areas,” it states. It claims bicycles using the road will slow traffic to as low as five miles per hour and “the resulting traffic congestion and blind curves will produce un-safe passing maneuvers by impatient drivers.”
Sterrett says what the flyer doesn’t stress “is the bizarre notion that parking is to be illegal on a residential street, thereby prohibiting construction crews, deliveries, moving vans, birthday parties, book club meetings, etc.”
She said residents were told if they wish to have a party, “our guests can park on side streets and make their way on foot along East Wesley to their target destinations.”
The flyer urges residents to write to Mayor Shirley Franklin and City Councilman Howard Shook and ask to re-install the five-foot-wide striped shoulders the full length of East Wesley, and “implement effective traffic calming measures, such as speed enforcement, speed signs that display ‘your speed’ to all drivers, in-street pedestrian crosswalk signs, stop signs, textured and colored road shoulders and occasional bulb-outs with a bicycle pass-through.”
The anonymous author of the flyer states: “Let’s support traffic calming, but let’s make sure we get safe traffic calming!”
In a letter to the editor of the Buckhead Reporter (see page 6 of this edition), Sterrett bemoans the fact the author of the flyer remains unknown. “No successful campaign was ever led by an anonymous general,” she states. .
She referred to a similar situation of about 12 years ago, when a group of Garden Hills homeowners persuaded the city to close off certain neighborhood streets, surprising other residents who had not been consulted. She wrote that it took six months of intense work by “a few determined dissenters” to get those plans changed.
According to Sterrett, folks were told by city representatives at a neighborhood meeting on May 4, 2005, that the plans for this traffic calming project was “set in stone.”
Sterrett predicts it will take more than a few letters to change this plan. She said her letter of October 11, 2005, on the present plan was ignored by the mayor and Councilman Shook.
Meanwhile, traffic continues to dodge construction along East Wesley, and some of neighbors continue to show their objections with their bright yellow signs with red lettering urging a stop to what they say is a “bad design.”