The Dunwoody City Council discussed pedestrian and intersection improvements to the Dunwoody Village corridor during a Monday meeting.
“The Village Crossroads Project” is a city plan meant to make Chamblee Dunwoody Road from Womack Road to Roberts Drive more walkable and bikeable. The city announced it would be seeking public input on the plan back in February. According to city documents, the city received 82 comments over a 30-day comment period, with 76% expressing overall support for the project.
According to Public Works Director Michael Smith, this project originated from the Dunwoody Village Master Plan.
“That theme for the village has continued through to recent master plan updates and our transportation plan for this project,” said Smith.
Smith said sidewalk accommodations through the Village are currently inconsistent, and there is a lack of proper bike accommodations through the corridor. Staff also looked at pre-COVID-19 pandemic traffic conditions in the corridor, finding that traffic volume is around the capacity limit for a two-lane roadway for most of the day, and over capacity between 3- 6 p.m.
Proposed improvements for the concept includes wider sidewalks on both sides of Chamblee Dunwoody Road and a cycle track for bikers raised to the level of the sidewalk. Walkers would be separated from cyclists by a landscape buffer with street trees and lighting, and cyclists would be separated from car traffic by a 3-foot buffer.
Smith said the roadway would generally remain the same, but would remove one of the southbound through lanes on Chamblee Dunwoody Road south of Mount Vernon Road. In areas north of Mount Vernon Road where a center turn lane is not needed, that turn lane would be converted into a landscaped median with the intent of calming traffic and creating safer crossings for pedestrians.
Smith also proposed options for several intersections along Chamblee Dunwoody Road. The council approved a roughly $2 million contract for intersection improvements at Chamblee Dunwoody Road and Womack Road, subject to legal review, earlier in the meeting. The improvements would add a left turn lane on Womack Road and provisions for a potential future right turn lane, according to city documents.
Smith mostly focused on improvements at the Mount Vernon Road and Roberts Drive intersections. The concept includes an additional northbound left turn lane at Mount Vernon Road. Smith said the addition of this lane was projected to decrease the delay at the intersection by about 15%. Smith said the city also considered other lane configurations at Mount Vernon, including a two-lane roundabout, but said that would require more land.
“It would work, but it requires even more property,” Smith said. “At a minimum, you would have to probably buy out three commercial properties to be able to fit something like this.”
Smith said the city also considered a roundabout at the Chamblee Dunwoody Road and Roberts Drive intersection.
“That would probably help meter that traffic a little bit,” he said. “People could go through there alternating and letting each other in. It looks like it would be an improvement.”
Multiple council members expressed support for a roundabout at Roberts Drive.
“The Roberts roundabout is very appealing to me,” said Councilmember Catherine Lautenbacher. “I like the aesthetics of having that be an entry point into a Village area. I like taking out a light, it’ll be more efficient.”
Smith said if the city wanted to move forward with a roundabout at Roberts Drive, it would probably best be tackled as a separate project.
“The corridor project is big enough already,” he said.
Many council members had questions about how the project would address traffic flow in the Dunwoody Village. Smith said while traffic was a consideration, the project focuses on walkability as a primary factor, not traffic.
“That’s a tough balancing act,” he said. “I don’t want anybody to get the impression that this project is fixing traffic flow.
Council members expressed concerns about how the city might prioritize traffic improvements in the corridor. Councilmember John Heneghan said he appreciated the safety and pedestrian improvements, but thought the city should focus on traffic improvements first.
“I would want some incremental traffic improvements first, and then we build the safety aspects around it second,” Heneghan said. “It looks like we’re building the safety aspects without looking at any incremental, which I think is short-sighted personally.”
Mayor Lynn Deutsch said she thought the council needed more information about the cost and timeline of the project, as well as figuring out if the roundabouts would be viable.
“I think if we could get some of the big questions answered first, particularly the traffic circle ones, it probably makes sense to do that,” she said. “Then we can go from there.”
The entire meeting and Village Crossroads presentation can be viewed on the city’s Facebook page.