Residents criticized Sandy Springs’ plan to remake the Peachtree-Dunwoody Road and Windsor Parkway intersection with new and extended turn lanes at a Feb. 7 open house, saying it would largely help commuters and make the area less safe. The city and consultants designing the concept said it would improve traffic flow and give better pedestrian access.
“It seems like you’re moving traffic through the neighborhood at the detriment to the neighborhood,” one resident said at the meeting held in City Springs, which about 40 people attended.
The intersection, near the city’s border with Buckhead and Brookhaven, is surrounded by single-family home communities and the Sandy Springs YMCA. It is often heavily congested and needs more room for turning cars, according to the city.
The proposal, which is in the concept stage, would add a right turn lane on westbound Windsor and extend the left turn lanes on northbound and southbound Peachtree-Dunwoody. Pedestrian improvements are included, too, with a new sidewalk running from down Windsor from the intersection to Estate Way. It’s one of many city projects funded by the transportation special local option sales tax.
Although there is enough extra room in the existing right of way for most of the improvements, the city would need some property from the YMCA’s lot.
The homeowners association that would be affected by the new right turn lane and sidewalk on Windsor is concerned the widening would cost them property value and said consultants were not being upfront about the changes.
“Do they think the residents are idiots?” Brookhaven Estates HOA President Gail Newcomb said. “Get ready for a battle.”
The concept would add a sidewalk several feet closer to Brookhaven Estates’ houses and remove trees, but would stay within the city’s right of way, consultant Bradley Cox said.
The removal of trees would increase the traffic noise, Newcomb said.
“This is a real problem,” she said. “It’s going to hit our values, increase traffic and be for other people.”
Other residents were concerned noise would increase because there would be a general increase in traffic.
“It is going to increase volume. When it becomes easier for people to come through there, they will,” resident Rob Wilson said.
Wilson, and several others, said they believe Sandy Springs would be paying for improvements that would largely benefit commuters passing through the city.
“Why should Sandy Springs residents pay for DeKalb County residents to get to [Ga. 400] faster?” Wilson said.
“It seems like there’s a lot more benefit to Brookhaven than Sandy Springs,” another resident said.
The morning traffic brings “severe” congestion on northbound Peachtree-Dunwoody and Windsor, according to the city. Evening rush hour clogs southbound Peachtree-Dunwoody. There are typically too many cars to fit in the existing left turn lanes. Between 2013 and 2017, there were 53 crashes with 12 injuries, the city said. The changes would cut down travel times for nearly all directions, according to the consultants’ traffic study.
Some said that congestion can make it safer for residents leaving their homes to turn onto the intersection’s roads by providing breaks in traffic. With the added traffic flow, some feared cars would be going too fast for them to safely leave, especially if they are turning left.
Other residents believes the problem lies elsewhere. Some residents suggested the city take a look at the traffic light timing, which causes major problems at nearby intersections such as the Glenridge Connector, where red lights last so long traffic can back up to Windsor.
“If you don’t fix the light at the Glenridge Connector, that’s not going to help,” one resident said.
Joe Gillis, the traffic manager for TSPLOST projects, said a system that coordinates signals is planned to come to the area that would help with those problems.
People generally liked the idea to bring crosswalks to every direction on the intersection and the added sidewalks. The crosswalks would be signaled with a pedestrian refuge island at westbound Windsor and southbound Peachtree-Dunwoody.
“The crosswalks are a no-brainer, everybody wants that,” Newcomb said.
Some suggestions were thrown out by residents, including a roundabout, but others said the project is bad enough the city should scrap the whole idea and save its money.
“I’d like to see you not do this and save your money for anything else,” a resident said.
The proposal is in the early stages and many details have not been determined. The city will next meet with stakeholders, like homeowners associations, before moving forward, said Dan Coffer, the city’s community relations manager.
For more information and to follow the project’s progress, visit sandyspringsga.gov/windsor.