Brookhaven, GA, May 24, 2016 – Commentary, by Robert Sorrentino, PE – Traffic is not like death and taxes, it does not just get worse. Most increases and almost all severe situations are a direct result of poor planning and execution. Let’s look at the infamous Peachtree/Dresden intersection. The recent traffic study for the Dresden development has quantitatively found this intersection to be extremely poor.
How did it get like this? Well, one decision and a failure to execute a proposed solution have had the biggest contribution.
In 2006 Town Brookhaven had its Development of Regional Impact Review (DRI). In that review it was found the project would significantly degrade the Peachtree/Dresden intersection from a mild Level of Service (LOS) D rating to a very poor F. The delay time for everyone passing through this intersection in the afternoon rush hour was going to increase by an average 59%. Clearly this was unacceptable.
The solution the engineers developed was to:
- Add a second southbound left-turn lane from Peachtree to Dresden
- Convert the existing northbound free-flow right-turn lane along Peachtree to a yield
- Construct a second eastbound left-turn lane along Brookhaven Dr.
These improvements were going to bring the LOS back down to D and actually reduce the average delay time from what it would be without Town Brookhaven. But these improvements obviously were not performed and the intersection went from a LOS D to an F just as the study explicitly said it would. The result is 110,498 hours of commuter’s time wasted over the past 8 years, as extrapolated from the study.
It is unclear to me as to why these improvements were not performed. But it is clear that a project was approved under the pretense that a credible solution was in place and would be executed. This is all the more relevant today. We are faced with many projects being evaluated all at the same time. Just like with Town Brookhaven: GDOT, ARC, GRTA and the local government are performing their analysis and working together towards solutions. But we know this approached failed before. How can we be sure it does not fail this time?
It is my opinion that no project or aggregate of projects causing a significant traffic impact be approved until a real solution is in place and funds identified. Once approval is granted then the City’s leverage is greatly reduced. This will help prevent us from making the same mistakes that have put us in this situation.