The Brookhaven City Council recently approved a study of North Druid Hills Road in the city and Buckhead’s Pine Hills neighborhood that includes a controversial roundabout at East Roxboro Road.
Pine Hill residents have been outspoken about the roundabout included in the North Druid Hills Corridor Study that calls for realigning the “Y”-shaped intersection north of Buford Highway to bring it closer to a 90-degree angle and converting it into a 3-legged multi-lane roundabout with a central landscaped island. This project would call for closing Goodwin Road to vehicular traffic, maintaining it as a green space and preserving access for the residences in the triangle between East Roxboro Road, Goodwin Road and North Druid Hills Road.
Traffic signals would be removed at the intersections of North Druid Hills at Goodwin roads and at East Roxboro at Goodwin roads for the roundabout. Crosswalks and sidewalks and multiuse paths would also be incorporated into the design to provide safety for pedestrians, cyclists and those using transit.
Several residents attending the April 23 City Council meeting when the study was approved questioned why the study would include a roundabout when it is still unknown what will happen at the I-85 and North Druid Hills interchange. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s 70-acre medical campus is now under construction at the interchange and. Emory University is also planning a major mixed-use redevelopment of Executive Park, across the street from CHOA’s campus.
The Georgia Department of Transportation is working with CHOA on a redesign of the interchange and CHOA officials have long said they prefer a diverging diamond be built there. Public Works Director Hari Karikaran said April 23 the city has seen a conceptual plan for the I-85 interchange that includes additional lanes.
Councilmember Joe Gebbia said at the meeting he understands there is “a lot of distrust” of roundabouts, but noted this project is a listed as a long-term project with funding expected in 2045. There has been no engineering or design of the roundabout and no immediate plans to change anything at the intersection, he said. Anything done at the intersection will have public input, he added.
The southbound entry leg into the roundabout includes two lanes, but community members raised concerns about the ability for motorists to make the right-turn from Goodwin Road to East Roxboro Road and get into the inside lane of the roundabout to travel north. The study recommends that at the time of design, the city consider leaving the traffic signals at Goodwin and East Roxboro roads to be activated by detectors embedded in the road.
The project also calls for building a 10-foot multiuse path along the north side of Goodwin Road to provide a direct connection for those walking and biking between East Roxboro and North Druid Hills roads. The roundabout would also create a “visual cue” to motorists driving from Buford Highway to slow down when approaching North Druid Hills Road and indicate the area is a multi-modal community, according to the study.
Besides the CHOA and Executive Park developments, a new Cross Keys High School is slated to be built on North Druid Hills Road where the former Briarcliff High School was located. And on the other end of North Druid Hills Road, at the Peachtree Road intersection, a mixed-use redevelopment of the Brookhaven-Oglethorpe MARTA property is also expected to take place in the near future.
The North Druid Hills Corridor Study essentially lays out a “corridor vision” for the nearly three miles of busy road between Peachtree Road at the north end to the southernmost end at Briarcliff Road. This segment serves as the main north-south artery in Brookhaven and is one of the most important streets in the city, according to the study.
The corridor vision in the study includes better-looking streetscapes while planning for increased traffic as the metro Atlanta population continues to grow. The vision also involves making the road easier and safer for pedestrians, cyclists and those using transit with added crosswalks, islands, a 10-foot wide multiuse path on the east side of the road and a 5-foot sidewalk on the west side of the road.
The thoroughfare connects the MARTA station, the Brookhaven Branch Library, Fernwood Park, the Lenox Park office complex, Cross Keys High and Woodward Elementary schools, some churches, and numerous multifamily and single-family residential neighborhoods. The commercial areas are mostly located at the two ends of the road with the residential areas in the middle.