Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Alleviating Traffic in Dunwoody

It's amazing to me how many articles I read in The Crier from Dunwoody residents who think if we add turn lanes to congested intersections - such as the one at Mt. Vernon and Vermack - or basically make any attempt to alleviate drive-time traffic jams within the city boundaries (specifically on Tilly Mill near Georgia Perimeter College), that all it will accomplish is increase cut-thru traffic and make the situation worse. They are adamant that fixing the former will only worsen the latter. Hogwash!
Some 250 years ago no one thought electricity could be harnessed. Some 100 years ago the naysayers put the kibosh on aircraft actually flying. Well if ingenious Americans can figure out how to climb those mountains, certainly we find a solution to our thought-to-be unsolvable traffic dilemmas.
Unfortunately I am not a Thomas Edison or Orville Wright when it comes to traffic, but those individuals exist, perhaps even right here in Dunwoody. Please don't tell me it can't be done, because it can. To quote Franklin Roosevelt, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Click on photo to listen to Roosvelt's speech.


Chip said...

You sure you don't want to run for City Council, again?

I know you've expressed a VERY UNPOPULAR position, but it happens to be the correct position. Traffic is always going to be a problem in Dunwoody, but there are things we can do to make it incrementally better.

Back in 2005 DeKalb proposed some road improvements, which were met with a howl of dismay and almost universal rejection by the locals, including some persons who would ultimately become members of the City Council of Dunwoody. As I recall, the proposals were maybe a bit strong, but the response essentially made DeKalb walk away from doing anything. Five years later, we are still where we were.

We're not going to shut down Georgia Perimeter College, so we might as well get serious about fixing access and through-traffic issues where we can. (By the way, I checked the GPC Factbooks from 1999-2006/7--latest available on the 'Web--GPC essentially grew from around 8,500 student trips/per week to just over 12,000 student-trips/week or roughly 1400 trips/day to 2000 trips/day. Those folks who say they're doubling and tripling every year are exaggerating!!! It's possible that the college has doubled since 1999, but over a 10-yr span there was lots of opportunity to plan and prepare for this increase in volume.)

Since GPC is centrally located in Dunwoody District 2, I hope our 2nd District Councilwoman and 2nd District At-Large Councilman read your blog!!! Time for someone to start leading on this very important issue.


Steve Barton said...

If you can draft Edison, Wright, and Roosevelt for your argument, then I'll put forward John Blutarsky: "Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the German's bombed Pearl Harbor? H**l no!"

So let me again (maybe my previous blog comment triggered this post, eh?) represent the VERY POPULAR position.

Turn lanes at Mt. Vernon and Vermack? No problem, the cut-through traffic doesn't make those turns. The small increase in Mt. Vernon through-put at the intersection will be offset by me being able to make my frequent right turns onto Vermack a little quicker. Hey, maybe you too Bob!

And is there a way to increase traffic speed/capacity around GPC that will not attract additional cut-through traffic? I'm willing to listen to ideas and research -- Hey, I'm one of the only people I know who believes those I-285 on-ramp control lights actually work! I believe in them because of the traffic engineers' research.

Show me how you can change the Womack-Tilly Mill and Tilly Mill-N.Peachtree intersections to improve traffic for locals and GPC students without attracting more I-285-alternate-route traffic buzzing through. This adherent of the VERY POPULAR position is willing to look at proposals and evidence and research.

And here Chip has declared the VERY POPULAR position to be incorrect. But I don't see any support for that assertion. I agree that nothing much has been done, but that doesn't mean that doing nothing was or is wrong. Please provide some proposals and evidence and research that might convince us VERY-POPULAR-folk that things can be "incrementally better" in a way that doesn't attract more cut-through traffic, which would be a "worse" in most any increment.

Discussion of possible traffic improvements is fine. Discuss away.

Also, I know from experience that the one place you do not want to have a typo or misspelling is in your Blogger post headline -- because you can't fix it. You are stuck with the title you have. Metaphor for traffic? Nah, maybe the traffic CAN be fixed but a case will have to be made.

All the best,
-- Steve Barton

Bob Fiscella said...

As always, thanks for the comment - and thanks for pointing out my spelling "faux pas!" As you can see, I was able to fix my headline, just as we will be able to fix our traffic!

Chip said...
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Chip said...
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Chip said...

Following up on a point....(I had a typo or two, so I'm resubmitting the comment with only minor corrections-Chip)

Sorry, Steve. I hadn't read your previous post, so I didn't comment on it.

Seems you suggest that anecdotal observation of increased traffic on Womack Road when I-285 is backed up means that if we improved Womack many would find this a better, faster alternative.

Let me understand your logic, then.

When I-285 is backed up (you've provided no data on frequency or duration or scope of what you mean by "backed up," by the way) some cars (not all cars, I presume, because then there wouldn't be a back up any longer) use Dunwoody as an alternate path around the congestion. (You also don't provide any data on the number of these cars, just your observation that there are "more" of them.) Do I have that correct?

Thus in times of known stress, behavior changes but without the stressor, behavior is acceptable? I hope I'm getting your drift, please correct me if I'm wrong.

Thus, I would conclude that even if we were to improve Womack slightly, fewer people than all the folks traveling on I-285 would come through Dunwoody, or I-285 would always be abandoned in favor of Dunwoody. I assert this based on your observation that when traffic is backed up on I-285, you see an increase, but you do not see this all the time.

Now, how do you conclude that the anticipated increase in flow along Womack, for example, would be sufficiently great to become a non-managable problem? At worst case, it wouldn't be any worse than when I-285 is backed up, at best it would stay the same. If we took steps like adding turn-lanes along Womack and Tilly Mill to improve traffic flow, would you agree that would be an incremental step toward improving the functionality of the roads?

Just like your argument about the Vermack-Mt.Vernon intersection, improving traffic flow MAY increase overall traffic, but will definitely IMPROVE the situation for the majority of travelers. That's what I mean by incremental steps.

And, to reiterate my previous point, where are your data on the pent-up need to use Dunwoody as a cut-through? If all you have is an observation under a non-standard set of circumstances, I don't know that applying it and extending that observation to the general case is exactly being logical.

And I don't need data to refute the illogic of your position and the VERY POPULAR belief that it supports.


Chip said...

To Steve B:

(I noted a few typos in my original, and I corrected these...the post is essentially the same as previous.)

I drove by GPC last night at 8:30 PM as cars were leaving. The backup on Tilly Mill at N. Peachtree stretched back past the Kingswood Methodist property line.

Observation/suggestion #1. A "right turn lane" from east-bound Tilly Mill onto south-bound N. Peachtree. Traffic study required. (When can we get this done?)

Observation/Suggestion #2: Tillingham Ct. intersection with Tilly Mill. Several writers to The Crier have complained about how GPC traffic impacts their cul-de-sac. Most have said it's GPC's fault and GPC has to change. My suggestion is to re-stripe the intersection, install flashing lights and signage advising "Do Not Block Intersection" and simply solve this problem. I don't know how much "study" this requires to implement...about as much as putting up a "No Parking" sign, I'd imagine.

Observation #3. Intersection at Tilly Mill and Mt. Vernon. Cars westbound on Mt. Vernon past the Williamsburg Center used to back up past All Saints Catholic because two or three cars wanted to make a left onto south/eastbound Tilly Mill. Several years ago when the subdivision put in the additional right-turn lane, traffic (illegally, but nonetheless) passed through this intersection much more quickly. So the Vermack/Mt. Vernon issue has a precedent. (Again, all for the studies)

Of course, you've killed my straw man by building your own, Steve. You point out that doing nothing may not have been the wrong thing to do. However, your straw man suggests that I-285 cut through traffic is the "boogey man". Right back atcha, Steve. Where are your studies that show that there is pent-up demand for I-285 traffic to cut through Dunwoody, and how much of an increase would we see under several scenarios?

The "common ground" we share is this: Dunwoody needs traffic studies to determine the scope and potential resolution of problems, if they are shown to exist.

Whether the opinion is VERY POPULAR or VERY UNPOPULAR is a matter of emotional debate, not deliberative decision-making.

Traffic is a quantitative variable. Let's get down to quantifying it, and stop bemoaning how GPC is the bad guy.

Let's challenge the VERY POPULAR opinion that doing little or nothing and keeping all "those people" away is the appropriate response to a very typical and quite common problem.


October 15, 2009 11:34 AM