The Buckhead Community Improvement District held a meeting April 19 for the planned two-lane roundabout at the intersection of Wieuca Road and Phipps Boulevard.
The meeting, held at Wieuca Road Baptist Church, drew a crowd of around 20 community members who mostly seemed skeptical of the plan, but there were a few who are optimistic it would solve the intersection’s problems.
The project, estimated to cost $2 million, would take 12 to 18 months to complete. The target start date is the first quarter of 2018.
The consultants from Pond and Company say the roundabout would move traffic through the intersection more quickly than the current traffic light, but is also designed to keep traffic at a slow enough pace to ensure pedestrian and driver safety. The roundabout would also improve pedestrian and cyclist safety, consultants say, because it adds bike lanes and crosswalks with flashing beacons around the roundabout.
“I think it would be better than what we have now,” a Buckhead resident who didn’t want to be named said.
Jha Kairoya, who works in the area, said he thinks the roundabout is smart solution to the traffic problems plaguing the intersection.
“I think it’s smart,” he said. “They are used a lot in other countries and they know how to navigate them just fine.”
However, some residents are concerned about traffic backing up from the Wieuca and Peachtree Road intersection a quarter-mile away, that cars will have to cross lanes of traffic to get to the right lane and that drivers will be too impatient to let other drivers into the roundabout.
“It’s not being well thought through,” David Skid, the president of the Park Avenue Homeowners Association said. “I think this is incomplete.”
Others, like Stanley Steinberg, think the roundabout is too small and smaller than it was depicted in previous plans. Consultants said this is to keep from encroaching on property.
“I don’t think you’ve solved our problem,” Steinberg, who lives in a condominium near the intersection, said.
Marilyn, Steinberg’s wife, said she is often concerned for her safety when she exits her condo, but does not think the roundabout would make it more safe. U.S. drivers don’t know how to properly use roundabouts, she said.
Graham Malone, a transportation engineer working on the project, said he has heard concerns tonight, but “that’s why we’re here.”
The consultants said in response to residents’ concerns that the roundabout will meter traffic enough to let others have time to get into the roundabout. They also said the lanes are designed so that drivers will need pick which one they need to be in before they enter the roundabout, alleviating the need to switch lanes.
However, there is an entrance to the roundabout that requires drivers to cross over one lane as soon as they enter or they will exit on the wrong street.
An avid cyclist, Kevin McCauley, the executive director of the Blue Heron Nature Preserve, said the way cyclists would have to navigate the roundabout – switching from crosswalks to roads to multi-use trails -can be disorienting.
Gordon Certain, the president of the North Buckhead Civic Association, told consultants he is concerned about the future of a small park in the area that his group raises funds for and maintains.
“We need to be involved or we’ll be unhappy,” Certain said to an environment planner working on the project.
The consultant, Matthew Wilder, said they will work together on plans for the park and will minimize the impact on the park.
Sally Silver, the policy analyst for District 7 City Councilmember Howard Shook, said her district believes there has not been enough public input and that there must be more meetings.
All the information on the roundabout will be posted on the Renew Atlanta Bond website by April 21. Comments can be submitted on that website until May 3.