City officials plan to redesign the junction of Chamblee-Dunwoody and Spalding roads, which they say is one of the city’s most dangerous intersections.

The Dunwoody City Council on April 28 gave the go-ahead to Southeastern Engineering, Inc., based in Marietta, to come up with a final design for the project.

At the council’s April 21 meeting, Public Works Director Michael Smith said 42 accidents had occurred at the intersection over the past five years. He said the accidents that occur there tend to be head-on or “T-bone” accidents, which are more likely to produce injuries. The intersection had the highest accident injury rate in the city, he said.

“This is really a safety project,” Smith told members of the council.

Smith said five “correctable” accidents are recorded each year at the intersection. Those accidents, he said, could be eliminated by improvements to the intersection.

Some residents at the meeting spoke in favor of doing something to make the intersection safer.

“I know it’s an expensive project, but I really hope you all will consider making improvements to that intersection,” said Community Council member Rick Callihan, who said he has driven through the intersection thousands of times. “I still think it’s the most dangerous intersection in Dunwoody.”

City consultants offered three possible fixes for the intersection.

–The first option was contained within the city of Dunwoody and would cost about $1.08 million.

–The second option would require participation by the city of Sandy Springs because a portion of the roadway was in that city. It was projected to cost about $1.33 million.

–The third option would turn Chamblee-Dunwoody, Spalding and Dunwoody roads into a triangle of one-way streets surrounding the Oakpointe neighborhood. Option C was priced at $900,000.

On April 21, city staff recommended the council to proceed with a design for the first option.

Chad Epple, an engineer with Southeastern Engineering, called the third option “essentially a roundabout with a community in the center,” and admitted residents of the Oakpointe neighborhood would have to make three left turns instead of a single right turn when leaving their neighborhood and heading toward the center of Dunwoody.

That option appeared to draw the greatest opposition. About a dozen residents of neighborhoods in the area attended the meeting to show their opposition.

“Option C is just a non-starter for me,” Councilman Terry Nall said.

Even the consultants who devised the proposal sounded ready to jettison it. “As a design team we were challenged to come up with something ‘out of the box,’” Epple said. “Maybe we should put it back in the box from what I’m hearing.”

Some council members said choosing which of the two remaining options to employ could depend on whether city officials from Sandy Springs were willing to join in the project. “If Sandy Springs is in, it changes the whole ball game,” Councilman Denny Shortal said.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.

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