Brookhaven residents received updates to traffic studies taking place on Ashford-Dunwoody Road and also on Peachtree Road where the MARTA transit oriented development is being planned.

Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst talks to a packed room at the Ashford Park Community Center during his traffic town hall meeting. (Photo Dyana Bagby)

About 60 people attended Mayor John Ernst’s monthly town hall at Ashford Park Community Center on Thursday, May 26, with the topic focusing on traffic.

“As we know, traffic is a problem — it’s a regional problem and a problem of a place that is successful,” Ernst said. “We cannot fix traffic. We can mitigate it here and there and that requires cooperation, communication and cash.”

Ernst noted only 4.7 percent of Brookhaven residents live and work in the city.

“Everyone else works outside the city — most of the traffic is [not caused] by Brookhaven residents,” he said. “Forty-thousand cars cut through Brookhaven every day.”

Peachtree Road-Dresden Drive-North Druid Hills Road

A MARTA traffic is underway and being conducted by Kimley-Horn & Associates. Rob Ross, project manager at Kimley-Horn, said the study has been focusing on the two major intersections on Peachtree Road at Dresden Drive and at North Druid Hills.

What’s been designed so far to be proposed to MARTA:

A conceptual plan for the Peachtree Road/Dresden Drive intersection from Kimley-Horn for a traffic study on the planned MARTA development. Click to enlarge.

Peachtree Road and Dresden Drive intersection
• Add a left turn lane eastbound on Brookhaven drive;
• Do some restriping on Dresden Drive where it goes underneath the railroad tracks to add another lane to go westbound toward Peachtree Road;
• Add two turn lanes from Dresden Drive to Peachtree Road;
• And to alter the long right turn lane that runs the length of the MARTA property by restriping and narrowing lanes to provide for three through lanes to go northbound on Peachtree Road.

A conceptual plan for the intersection of Peachtree Road at North Druid Hills as part of a MARTA development traffic study by Kimley-Horn. Click to enlarge.

Peachtree Road and North Druid Hills Road intersection
• Add two southbound left turn lanes from Peachtree Road to turn onto North Druid Hills Road.
• Using the right turn lane that goes into the shop center and converting it into a through lane and doing some widening on Peachtree Road.

“This project for us is unprecedented,” he said, because a study such as this hasn’t been presented to the public so early in the process.

“This is at the request of the city to share as we find things out,” he said. “We are still finishing the traffic study. This is still early in the process and … what you see now may change.”

The traffic study area and intersections included in a traffic study by Kimley-Horn for the MARTA transit oriented development. Click to enlarge.

Ross said the study area extends on Peachtree Road from Osborne Road to Colonial Drive; encompasses North Druid Hills Road to Briarwood Road; and includes Dresden Drive to Ellijay Drive and Caldwell Road.

Traffic counts were done on March 30 from the peak hours of 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and then from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Typically evening hours run for two hours, but the Brookhaven study received an extra hour of counting because of the heavy congestion, Ross said. He did not give out any numbers at the town hall.

The traffic study includes projections out to 2019 with the TOD development and also takes into account three developments on Dresden Drive: Gables Oglethorpe apartments and the proposed Dresden Village mixed use development and Dresden Drive at Appalachee Drive apartments.

Betsey Eggers, chair of the Peachtree Creek Greenway, asked how the study was going to fit in with the city’s bike and pedestrian plan. “There are no bike lanes … the study focuses on more cars,” she said.

“There definitely will be bike lanes, but our biggest concern is traffic congestion,” Ross said.

Patrick Allen, a GDOT engineer, said Peachtree Road has its own manager looking at the timing of traffic signals on a daily basis and also takes into consideration side roads, such as Colonial Drive.

Ashford-Dunwoody Road Corridor

Jamie Cochran, senior vice president of Transportation Planning, for Gresham, Smith and Partners, gave an update on the Ashford-Dunwoody Corridor study. She thanked Councilmember Linley Jones for ensuring public participation in the study process and said 125 residents attended two community meetings in March to look at maps of the road and make suggestions; more than 700 comments were submitted.

Cochran said the corridor study is a “transportation vision” because it not only focuses on cars but also is taking into account bicyclists and pedestrians.

Main suggestions from the community include: traffic signal timing pedestrian safety because of the schools, parks and the YMCA located along Ashford-Dunwoody Road; finding ways to ease congestion on the main road; and finding ways to alleviate congestion at the intersections.

“Certain intersections are really tough and cause bottlenecks,” she said.

A couple people asked about the speed limit on Ashford-Dunwoody Road being raised to 40 miles per hour. Allen, the GDOT engineer, said state law mandates speed limits be in the 85th percentile of what motorists drive on a stretch of road. The law is based on rural Georgia cities and ensures local police departments don’t set up speed traps to rake in revenue, Ernst said.

Cochran said there are design strategies the city may want to install on Ashford-Dunwoody Road to slow traffic, such as narrower lanes. “This is a conscious decision the city needs to make that slows down everyone,” Cochran said.

Her firm will be analyzing new traffic data over the next two months and a community-wide charrette is slated to be held in Septembers. Recommendations to the City Council are expected to be made by November, Cochran said, and then the next phase will be to find ways to fund and implement those recommendations.

Dyana Bagby

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.