Steve Blanchard says he can’t safely walk his toddlers to his mailbox on Brookhaven’s Thornwell Drive because of cars zooming by his driveway to turn onto North Druid Hills Road.
Even though it would inconvenience him, Blanchard says he’s willing to close off access to North Druid Hills as part of a proposed traffic calming measure, if it means eliminating cut-through traffic.
“I’m not going to sit back and watch someone get hurt,” he said.
But Danielle Gourley, who lives between Colonial Drive and Pine Grove Avenue, believes plans to close off some roads to motorists in the neighborhood will only mean even more traffic on her streets. “This is not a traffic calming plan, this is funneling traffic to Colonial and Pine Grove,” she said.
These are the two basic arguments presented at a June 15 community meeting hosted by Brookhaven Councilmember Bates Mattison in an effort to find some kind of community compromise over a traffic plan for the Brookhaven Heights neighborhood. Various proposals have pitted neighbors against one another.
“There’s a lot of animosity and, with that, nothing will get done,” Mattison said as he listened to people voice opposition in several tense exchanges about the proposed traffic plan.
At its June 7 meeting, Brookhaven City Council deferred until July 12 taking action on the petition for traffic calming measures in the neighborhood. The petition calls for closing streets, adding more speed humps and a roundabout.
“I’m not set in stone with any one idea,” Mattison said. “The proposed solution is very restrictive to the neighborhood, and when I see a neighborhood willing to restrict its own access, it certainly speaks to the significance of the problem.”
Mattison said on June 15 that he’s not sure 30 days will provide enough time to come up with what will likely be some kind of new plan. It’s possible another delay will be needed.
Mattison also promised that a website with traffic studies and data will be created in the near future to allow access to reports and analysis to everyone and not just those included in Facebook groups.
A major disagreement between neighbors is the desire by many in the area to partially close Standard Drive and Thornwell Drive by making them right-turn-in only from North Druid Hills. Some residents also propose partially closing Oglethorpe Avenue by making it right-in, right-out only from North Druid Hills.
“I work in Norcross, and I won’t be able to go left out of my street,” Blanchard said. “Also, those who won’t know [about the partial closing] will have to turn around in my driveway. But this is what’s best for the community. Safety first.”
Residents in favor of the closings say limiting access into the neighborhood at several major access points will significantly reduce cut-through traffic from drivers seeking an easier route from Peachtree Road to Buford Highway or I-85.
Those living on Pine Grove Avenue and Colonial Drive, however, argue limiting access to roads means the already bad cut through-traffic on their roads will get worse.
“The plan that’s on the table is essentially flawed … what it’s doing is benefiting the majority at the expense of the minority. Why should Pine Grove and Colonial have to suffer?” said Sarah Ford, who lives on Pine Grove Avenue.
Gourley said she knows people who use the Waze app that tells them to cut through the neighborhood by way of Oglethorpe Avenue to get to North Druid Hills. If and when Oglethorpe Avenue is partially closed, she asked, what will keep Waze from directing drivers to Pine Grove Avenue? She also opposes partial road closures because she said she should be able to use the entrances and exits that are available in her own neighborhood.
Mattison says it appears some sort of compromise must be reached.
“Everyone’s voices are extremely important,” he said.