Les Gurvey, left, Bob Scourtis, center, and Sandy Springs City Councilman John Paulson, right, discuss plans to improve the intersection of Spalding Drive and Mount Vernon Road.

City officials tried their best on Sept. 5 to convince District 1 residents that the intersection of Spalding Drive and Mount Vernon Road needs an overhaul.

They faced a deeply skeptical audience gathered at Brandon Hall School. Residents questioned the city’s claims about the need for the project.

Police report 17 accidents at the intersection in three years, with no fatalities. Residents wanted to know if the accidents were minor fender-benders.

Kevin Walter, the city’s Public Works Director, said there have been serious accidents.

City staff deemed the intersection a grade F, the lowest possible designation for a roadway.  Residents questioned that ranking, saying city staff doesn’t live near the intersection.

Plans call for starting the project in 2013 and completing all improvements by spring 2014.

Some audience members wanted the city to reconsider.

“This intersection is a waste of money and time,” resident Les Gurvey said, receiving a round of applause from the crowd.

Walter said the project should cost less than $1 million.

District 1 City Councilman John Paulson explained the city’s dilemma to his constituents.

“This is an intersection that is rated F,” Paulson said. “It has got to be improved. We can’t just leave an intersection rated F alone.”

The city’s latest plan is an attempt at compromise. Residents blasted a different plan the city presented in June, saying it didn’t do enough to slow down east and west traffic on Spalding.

The latest proposal addresses that by placing a traffic light at the intersection of the two roads. All east traffic on Spalding will use the light, while all west traffic will have to yield for west Mount Vernon Road traffic.

Walter said westbound traffic on Spalding would be confined to one lane to slow drivers down as they approach the yield sign.

Drivers headed west on Spalding won’t slow down, one resident said.

Walter said the city has considered a stop sign, but there are tradeoffs.

“If somebody runs the stop sign and you’re not looking it can be more dangerous than if there’s a yield sign and you are looking,” Walter said.

Bob Scourtis, another resident who attended the meeting, said any fixes will create bottlenecks at other intersections.

“I believe we should leave everything like it is and put a traffic light there,” he said.

In this video: This is a traffic simulation of evening peak volume times for the year 2032 using the new intersection design. The simulation  is four times the normal rate of speed. The plan calculates traffic patterns using a growth rate of 2 percent compounded annually. Source: City of Sandy Springs

Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt wrote for Reporter Newspapers from 2011 - 2014. He is the founder and editor of Decaturish.com