Friday, September 21, 2012

Vermack/Womack Intersection Improvements

I spent a few minutes at Dunwoody High School last night talking with city officials about the two proposals to alleviate the traffic congestion during rush hours at the Vermack/Womack intersection.  One proposal is a roundabout (above).  The other is a traffic light (below).  The cost of the projects range from $600,000 to just north of $1,000,000. 
Either project will solve the traffic issues, but not without creating other problems - mainly safety concerns for children walking to school, and encroaching on neighboring properties.  And, oh yea, there's the price tag.

Click photo to enlarge
 After speaking with city officials and neighbors, the latter who seem unanimous in opposition to either proposal, I believe the most cost-effective solution is the best solution (one not suggested by the city, but some of the neighbors) - hire part-time safety-trained personal to act as traffic officers at the intersection.  One of the neighbors told me finding retired or off-duty officials to handle the job would not be a problem (I have no idea).  He said the going rate is $35 per hour.  At a maximum of four hours per day (two in the morning, two in the evening), the cost would be less than $30,000 a year. 

Not only would this plan be prohibitively more cost effective, but likely do a better job in alleviating traffic issues.  It definitely would be safer than either of the city's proposals (and city officials will tell you that safety needs to come first). 
I know the city spent in excess of $100,000 to perform a study and hire a company to come up with their two proposals, but to me, the neighbors' solution is far superior.  At the very least, the city should test this plan to determine if it works.  The cost would be minimal.  Why not at least give it a shot?  And, if it works, it would give city officials an additional $600,000-$1,000,000 to waste spend on their beloved makeover of Dunwoody Village Parkway!
Just my two-cents worth.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Councilman Update and Ethics Board Meeting

The following is an update from Councilman Terry Nall.  I am particularly interested in the Vermack/Womack intersection meeting, as I don't live far from there and am very familiar with the heavy congestion during both morning and afternoon rush hours.  It's too bad this project is not higher on the list of the city's priorities and has to take a backseat to the mess that is Dunwoody Village Parkway.  Whatever happened to "fixing what needs fixing!" 

Upcoming City Council Meetings at 7:00pm

September 24
October 15 (note this one-time change to 3rd Monday)
October 29 (note this one-time change to 5th Monday)

Project Renaissance Parks and Trail

Two additional public meetings are scheduled to hear your input for the design of the four public parks and trail within the 35-acre Project Renaissance development in Georgetown. These additional meetings are during the day in an effort to reach those who are unable to attend night meetings.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 9:30am-11:00am AND 3:30pm-5:30pm
Dunwoody Public Library; 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road

Vermack Road & Womack Road Intersection

A public meeting is scheduled to share your feedback about the design possibilities for the Vermack/Womack intersection improvement:

Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Dunwoody High School Cafeteria (Note the revised location)

The two conceptual designs include a traditional traffic light and a roundabout. After an advance view of the designs, I personally favor the roundabout design for these reasons:

  • Retains a 24-hour traffic calming effect on Womack and Vermack - all cars will slow down to 15 mph to proceed through it
  • Has a protected pedestrian island so a pedestrian crosses just one travel lane at a time - a vast improvement over today's configuration
  • Involves the least amount of right of way acquisition
  • Reduces potential for head-on and t-bone crashes
  • Retains the neighborhood look and feel
  • Improves the efficiency of the intersection, but doesn't add additional capacity for volume
  • Offers the best intersection improvement ratings for the projected over the next 25 years
  • Less expensive than the traffic light design option.
Zoning Code Rewrite

Module 2 of the Zoning Code Rewrite Project will be ready for public input in early October. You're invited to attend the public meeting of this next module and share your thoughts. More information about the entire project is at

Tuesday, October 2, 2012 at 7:00pm
City Hall, Council Chambers; 41 Perimeter Center East

A Message from Dunwoody Police

September 14th at about 3:30 PM a 14-year old student from Dunwoody High school reported that as he was walking home from school on Manhasset Dr, a white Nissan Frontier 2 door pickup drove up to him. He said the passenger of the truck asked if he wanted a ride. The DHS student was savvy enough to immediately walk up to the nearest home and call his parents and 911. The Nissan continued toward Manhasset Dr and Mt. Vernon Rd and was not seen again. Officers were in the area within minutes but did not locate the suspects.
Talk with your children, even the older ones, and make sure they know what to do in the event something like this happens to them. It was very smart of the student in this case when he walked up to the nearest house and got on his cell phone. Encourage students to walk with friends. Children should never approach strange vehicles or people. In fact, take several steps away from strangers and their vehicles. Call 911 and report any and all suspicious people and or vehicles immediately.
If you have input or suggestions on these or any other City Council issues, please let me know. I am available to organizations, church groups, neighborhood associations, etc. that desire a City Council member to attend and provide in-person updates.

Terry Nall
Dunwoody City Council (At Large)

Ethics Board Meets

The Dunwoody Board of Ethics met last night and recommended City Council sort out the mess before having any formal hearings.  The board also dismissed charges against all council members except Adrian Bonser and Mayor Mike Davis.  I'm guessing the charge against the mayor will be dismissed in the near future as well. 
For more on how the hearing went, read the ethics story in the Dunwoody Reporter or check out Kerry de Vallette's blog at I'm just sayin' Dunwoody.
I was unable to make last night's meeting, but I do want to go to one to see how the board operates.  However, when Kerry uses words like "laborious" to describe last night's meeting, it doesn't sound like I'm missing much!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Update from Councilman Nall

The following update was provided by Councilman Terry Nall.  It is a partial update, as Terry sent it out on Monday, and my apologies, I'm just now getting it posted so I have omitted the dated materials. 
I'm glad to see council finally get around to talking about possible traffic congestion improvements to the Vermack/Womack intersection.  I'd love to see some talk about improvements along Mt. Vernon Rd., as well. These are roads/intersections that are more pressing, unlike Dunwoody Village Parkway, which was not on any one's radar until the council brought it up in the last year or so.  Quite frankly, I never heard anyone talk about changes to DVP in the first 16 years I lived in Dunwoody!  It seems the only reason we are even talking about Dunwoody Village Parkway is because we have secured federal and state grants.  It's as if the city painted itself into a corner with these grants, and now is basically forced to spent $1 million of capital improvement funds, unnecessarily.  Granted, at some point in time, Dunwoody Village Parkway probably needs to be addressed concerning redevelopment of the Village.  But not now.  Just one humble voter's opinion. 

Vermack Road & Womack Road Intersection Public Meeting

Continuing with City Council's desire to make substantial traffic congestion improvements, a public meeting is scheduled to share your feedback about the design possibilities for Vermack/Womack intersection as noted below:

Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 6:00pm - 8:00pm
City Hall - Council Chambers; 41 Perimeter Center East

Dunwoody Village Parkway

Last Monday, the Council divided on the vote to continue with the original scope of the Dunwoody Village Parkway project, which was designed, funded, and approved by last year's Council. The project includes tearing out the parkway median, reducing lanes of traffic, and adding dedicated bike lanes and sidewalks for a total cost of over two million dollars to be funded from Federal and State grants and capital improvement funds from the City of Dunwoody.
Though some elements of the project have merit, such as the much needed sidewalks, I believe the parkway project is not our highest priority at this time in light of the other infrastructure priorities we face. However, the City ran the risk of blacklisting from future grants if we cancelled the plan completely.
I recommended a compromise plan, as reported in the August 29 issue of the Crier (click here) that would not add dedicated bike lanes as the traffic counts do not warrant it, save the median and its landscaping (after proper pruning), add sidewalks and streetscapes, and avoid $300,000 of the median demolition cost.
After much discussion, the final vote was 5-2 in favor of continuing with the project as previously approved by last year's Council. While I did not share my colleagues' vision and votes, we remain colleagues and neighbors both before and after Council meetings. On this issue, we simply agree to disagree.
This parkway work will not begin until after the July 4, 2013 parade.

Fire/Rescue Service

This year, Dekalb County increased its millage rate for Fire/Rescue service from 2.70 to 3.29 mills. This is an annual increase of 22% and a 30% increase over the last two years. DeKalb County also relocated out of Dunwoody its fire/rescue ambulance unit that was stationed at the Roberts Drive Fire Station 12.
At last Monday's Council meeting, we learned the average Dekalb Fire/Rescue response time in Dunwoody for the first six months of 2012 (measured from when a citizen first contacts ChatComm 911 to when the first fire/rescue unit arrives) is almost 11 minutes. Because this is just an average, some Dunwoody residents receive a much longer response time. In my opinion, that's not acceptable in life-threatening situations where the "window of opportunity" for optimum care is half this time. At my request, the city manager is researching the many fire district service models available to Dunwoody. More on this public safety initiative is to come later this year.
If you have input or suggestions on these or any other City Council issues, please let me know. I am available to organizations, church groups, neighborhood associations, etc. that desire a City Council member to attend and provide in-person updates.

Terry Nall
Dunwoody City Council (At Large)