Monday, November 5, 2012

Vote; Womack/Vermack Intersection

Tuesday is Election Day - don't forget to vote!  There is much more on the ballot than the presidential race.  To view a sample Dunwoody ballot, click on the image below.

Womack/Vermack Intersection

Despite the recommendation from staff, last week Dunwoody City Council voted to do nothing to alleviate the congestion at the Womack/Vermack Intersection.  It was a 4-3 vote against the improvements, with Councilors Deutsch, Bonser, Heneghan and Shortal voting to keep this hazardous, congested intersection like it is.  For the life of me, I cannot figure out why.  Hopefully they didn't cave to the pressure applied by a small, but vocal group of neighbors who spoke before council prior to the vote.
The roundabout project proposed by staff will not only minimize the congestion at this intersection, but make it safer for pedestrians and bikers (folks at a dangerous intersection near Emory University had the same concerns a few years back, but since a roundabout was constructed, they have become believers and now extoll the virtues of the improvements).
Council Terry Nall has done more homework on this than any other council member, and is pushing for the project to be funded next year. The Dunwoody Homeowners Association unanimously approves the city's continuing of the design process of this intersection, and the roundabout has the support of Dunwoody High School principal Noel Maloof, as well as Dunwoody resident and former mayoral candidate Bob Dallas, who is the former Director of the state's Office of Highway Safety. 

For more on council's head-scratching actions on this intersection, read I'm Just Sayin' Dunwoody, Dunwoody Farmer Bob and Dunwoody Talk's blog posts.  They are much more direct in their indictment of council on this vote.  


Joe Hirsch said...

I applaud Councilors Deutsch, Bonser, Heneghan and Shortal. The Vermack-Womack intersection is NOT like the Emory intersection. Apples to oranges. The DHA made their decision before our public works Department answered a single question presented to them from neighbors. Terry Nall's first plan to "improve" the intersection involves the government seizure of homeowners' property. Do you think that’s a good idea? Bob Dallas did not have any more information than the group opposed to the roundabout. Principal Maloof does not see all the car accidents from cars turning out of the school parking lot - which are not addressed in this 1 million dollar plan. And just how will moving more cars faster through this residential intersection get them through the next red light down the street faster?

Joe Seconder said...

Here's my August, 2010 posting from Heneghan's Blog and presentation of Roundabouts. I did some outside the box ideas about creating a linear park out of a section of Jett Ferry.

and here's a video I took of Roswell's Roundabout:

Bob Fiscella said...

Joe H - why don't you go down to Emory and see how their roundabout works. Pretty impressive!
Let's face it, the intersection is problematic and a hazard, and something needs to be done.

Bob Fiscella said...

Joe S - thanks for including the links and the video!

Joe Hirsch said...

Hey Bob, I was at Emory's last week for my first time and it does appear to work very well there. But how does it compare to Vermack-Womack? And I agree that the Dunwoody intersection has some serious problems, but the city refuses to even try hiring a cop there for 4 hours a day, so nearby homeowners refuse to go along with the roundabout plans (amongst other reasons). And here's a suggestion to help Vermack-Womack: widen Mt. Vernon!

Kerry de Vallette said...

This was to be a budget vote to include funding in the 2013 budget for the project. It wasn't a vote for the roundabout! Michael Smith hadn't even had a chance to present anything about the project that evening.

I hope everyone calms down and this gets placed back on the agenda so that all options can be explored, vetted, and the community moves on!

Joe Hirsch said...

Kerry, Michael had already made his presentations and the contracts had already been signed. Did you miss the presentation where the consulting firm said the city would save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in gas and time - thus paying for the project in savings? Yeah, that was the sales pitch.

Bob Lundsten said...

no the truth comes out Joe. A true NIMBY. Dont build it near my house wien Mt. Vernon.
This coming from a gorup that does not want to encourage cut through traffic.
The idea that folks are going to SPEED through a round about is just crazy. Their is a greatter possiblity that they speed through what is there now or at best roll the sign entirely.
Thanks for finally owning up. You just donot want any change espeocially if it is near your house.
I am just curious how the opponents knew to show up in advance of what should have been a simple second read of a budget?
If this had happened in DeKalb there would be a riot. Seems we have really become what we once so despised. Insider back room politics.
And how you think the old Emory situation was not WORSE than Womack Vermack is just mind boggling to me.
But then again Joe you have always been smarter than anyone else in the room, especially me

Joe Hirsch said...

Bob, you are such a MacGuyver... I'm not sure why your temper is flaring again. Get the weggie out and talk, and the screaming will stop. Let me help you with math: cars going 15 + miles per hour through a pedestrian crossing (city's estimate) is a lot faster than the cars who are forced to stop at the signs now (since there is so much traffic!).  Neighbors WANT the traffic, not an increase in volume, as councilors admit it will bring.  Who would want more cars flying by their front yard? Proud NIMFY. We are glad the intersection is clogged.  So sure, if the goal is to move more cars across Dunwoody, look at Mt Vernon - duh. The 4 lanes there are reduced to 2.

I saw cars flowing nicely at Emory around the roundsbout last week, it looked good. I dont think you read my comment clearly. Read it again. But I'll ask you too: how does Emory compare to Vermack-Womack? Do they have the same number of roads intersecting? Is there a driveway that 17 year olds get into frequent accidents adjacent to the intersection (and ignored in the plans)? And why are you shocked neighbors came together at a public meeting to protest a budget item?  We participated in public comment. What is "backroom" about that? We emailed our neighbors to come express their displeasure with the project. Your jealousy of me has gotten the better of you...

Joe Hirsch said...

Bob L, you are not a bad person. You are just very uninformed on this issue. Your acronym is actually very instructive, rather than an insult. Not In My Front Yard. Not ashamed to say it. Every resident of Dunwoody needs to know the city plans to take land from at least 7 homes. By force of guns or jail, the city's goal is to seize property from homeowners to build the roundabout, if constructed. If these homeowners dont protect the value of their property, who will? And many, many residents agree the taking of property is a serious matter, realizing their homes could be next.

Heyward said...

So yesterday I went to the Emory roundabout. I was amazed by this roundabout. It was mesmerizing to watch. It was obviously designed around the pedestrian and not the car. I shot a video with my iPhone for people to enjoy. In the video one can see a mother jogging with her two children in a stroller though the intersection at the same time a bike is navigating the roundabout as well as a large motor coach.

I believe that we need to continue the design process of this intersection improvement. We were only in the conceptual stage of this project at the point when funding was removed from the 2013 budget. This is a good project for Dunwoody and for this intersection. All the safety concerns will be addressed by letting the design process continue then council can make an educated decision on the project details.

Joe Seconder said...

I asked Alicia Hatcher with the Georgia Safe Routes to School program this question: "Do you have any references on roundabouts placed near schools and their safety for children pedestrians? "

Here's her response:
I don’t know of any Georgia specific examples, but did some research and found the information below. Basically, the benefits of roundabouts are that they provide more pedestrian refuges, reduce the number of pedestrian-to-vehicle conflicts, and slow down traffic. All of these are also benefits for student pedestrians walking to school as well, but I couldn’t find many specific examples. Let me know if you need anything else. - Scroll to 4.1


If you want to verify this or have further questions, here's her Contact Info:
Alicia Hatcher
School Outreach Coordinator - NW Georgia
GA Safe Routes to School Resource Center
Direct: 404.593.9569
Hotline: 1.877.436.8927

Todd Helton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Todd Helton said...

Joe S and Heyward:
You did not prove your point with the videos. The Roswell roundabout included a minute of traffic at low traffic counts with Zero pedestrians. In the Emory roundabout, the lady with the stroller was definitely startled by the car to her right at :13. She was not sure if the driver was going to yield. There were no walking children in the video and this area is different than Vermack/Womack. It includes restaurants, Starbucks, bars, and college kids where it is expected to be busy. Would you seriously let an elementary school child cross this intersection without adult supervision?

n flood said...

I live on Womack (east side of Vermack), work home frequently, and have an 'office' with a window that overlooks the street, so I'm pretty familiar with the traffic issues.

Here's the patterns:

If I leave by 7:12 (seriously, 7:12... I'm an engineer, what can I say?) I don't get traffic. After that, I have to wait until 8:20-ish for it to return to normal. West bound traffic is the toughest.

When Dunwoody High lets out, it's every man for himself as those kids exit drive away. With the exits being so close to the intersection, it's mass hysteria for 1/2 an hour.

5ish to 6:30ish (it's a bit more spread out) with the worst traffic coming from the west.

So the math comes out to 1 hour in the morning, .5 hours in the afternoon and another 1.5 hours in the evening. Add in a safety factor and call it 3.5 hours of miserable road rage traffic conditions, or 15% of the day.

Is the $$ worth the 15% daily congestion? As someone who's affected by it more than most due to proximity, I'd have to say no.

The main reason is, no matter what we do, it's always going to be a mess. I liken it to leaving the stadium after a football or baseball game. In order to alleviate the problem, we don't need a roundabout, or a light, or whatever, we need a cloverleaf.

I think the idea of wanting to do something to help out is noble, but to quote Shakespeare, ' is a roundabout told by an elected official, full of sound and fury, signifying... not much less traffic'. (paraphrased)

As to the 'hazardous' part of the comment, I've lived here for 4 years and I don't recall anyone ever getting in a major car wreck nor any pedestrians hurt/killed.

That being said, I think a wise and cost effective 'to-do' would be to repaint the lines, add some more signage, and improve the 'pedestrian' friendliness of the area.

...and then get the Dunwoody police to ticket all the Perimeter college kids speeding down the road to get to the campus. Now that is hazardous.

For what it's worth.

Michael Saye said...

sung to the Eurythmics, “Sweet Dreams”

New streets are what we need
Our infrastructures starting to bleed
Can’t see the forest for the trees
Everybody’s waiting for something

Some of them want a new crew
Some of them want a crew and contract too
Some of them want to sue you
Some of them want you to be confused

Their T-Splost did not succeed
Dekalb wants that extra penny
We wonder what will go up in fees
All of us have nothing

Hold Your Hands Up, Keep Your Hands Up, Hug The Wall
Hold Your Hands Up, Hug The Wall, Keep Your Hands Up, Hug The Wall
Hold Your Hands Up, Hug The Wall, Keep Your Hands Up, Hug The Wall
Hold Your Hands Up, Hug The Wall, Keep Your Hands Up

So Dekalb County wants to choose you
So Dekalb County says it wants no bad news
So Dekalb County wants to use you
So Dekalb County wants you to lose

Dekalb County is full of greed
We’ll decide who spends the green
See their deeds by the slime they leave
Everyones full of corruption

Some will retire cause they have to
Some of them will even retire but now refuse
Some of them take getting used to
Some of them think they can’t be moved

Dekalb said it’s just one lousy penny
Tax us more is their decree
The 400 toll has a wicked history
Everybody wants to remove them

Don’t You Let Up, Keep The Heat Up, Burners On
Don’t You Let Up, Burners On, Keep The Heat Up, Stayin Strong
Don’t You Let Up, Burners On, Keep The Heat Up, Stayin Strong
Don’t You Let Up, Burners On, Keep The Heat Up

Some counties need new revenue from you
Some of them want new bicycle lanes and sidewalks too
Some of them won’t tell the truth
Some of them will come after you

Brookhaven is finally now a city
Pirates now plunder with impunity
All road development and some cities will be
The same not budging

Their plans went down in defeat
We need trust not deceit
You follow the money to where it leads
Contractors are always paid something