A study of the busy intersection of Wieuca and Phipps roads in Buckhead shows converting it to a five-legged roundabout would bring the best traffic relief.
It also would cost more than $2 million, the most of the three alternatives studied as ways to fix the confusing intersection.
At least, for 23 hours a day, said Jonathan Reid, of Parsons Brinkerhoff, the company hired to study the intersection of Wieuca and Phipps. Reid presented the study’s finding to the Buckhead Community Improvement District’s board on Sept. 29.
“This is our 23-hour solution,” Reid said. “Most parts of the day, it works great and provides a safety benefit. And in the p.m. peak, ‘it is what it is.’
Creating a multilane roundabout improves traffic through the intersection without taking too much property, Reid said. The study said a roundabout would cost about $2 million for construction, not including the cost of acquiring necessary rights of way.
“Most expensive, but it does meet the environmental demands and it’s safer for the motorists and pedestrians,” Reid said.
The current intersection has a free-flow left lane, Reid said, where some drivers are unsure whether they are supposed to yield to oncoming traffic or stop.
Forthcoming mixed-use development, including a hotel, will add to the congestion and confusion, he said.
The consultants studied three possible alternatives for the intersection.
The first alternative involves adding left turn signals at a cost of about $250,000, Reid said. While the signals would also allow pedestrians to cross safely, signals won’t help the traffic backing up along Wieuca, he said.
“While it does provide some safety, the movement is so heavy that the queue would start to back up on Wieuca and create other operational problems,” Reid said.
The second alternative involved widening Weiuca Road from three to four lanes. This option wasn’t popular with groups that wanted to preserve the area’s character. Besides, it would cost an estimated $1 million, Reid said.
Reid compared the three options to the “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” fable, where two options were unacceptable and the third — the roundabout — was “just right.”
The layout shows dual lanes with five legs. Drivers would have to decide what lane they needed to be in to get to their exit. Reid said one lane would empty directly into the Wieuca Road Baptist Church.
The next steps for the project include talking to rights of way owners and finding funding. The BCID expects to contribute, Executive Director Jim Durrett said.