Brookhaven, GA, May 31, 2016 – by Trey Benton – A proposal and resolution for traffic calming measures in the Brookhaven Heights neighborhood were discussed in the May 24th City Council Work Session. This proposal has residents in the adjacent Brookhaven Fields neighborhood stirring.
Because of their proximity to Brookhaven Heights, and since the community sees the entire southeastern portion of the city facing identical traffic problems, residents say the entire area should be included in the traffic calming conversation. Neighbors are also saying from a broader perspective, there should not be one-off solutions with the potential of having secondary negative consequences on other areas of Brookhaven.
According to the City, the Brookhaven Heights Civic Association (BHCA) requested a traffic study be initiated by the city to evaluate the issue of cut-through traffic in their neighborhood. Before the incorporation of Brookhaven as a city, speed tables were installed by DeKalb County which provided relief for a time, but with the current volume of traffic, those measures are no longer adequate.
A traffic study was performed in Brookhaven Heights shows the volume of cut-through traffic, particularly along Colonial Drive, Standard Drive and Thornwell Drive, is an issue. To address the issue, City Officials say BHCA representatives discussed possible solutions with their neighborhood, a plan was prepared, and a petition was circulated to the 415 affected residents. 66.5% of respondents said they approved of the traffic calming measure – only 65% is required by the city.
The plan proposes:
- Partially close access from the neighborhood to and from North Druid Hills at Standard Drive, Thornwell Dr, and Oglethorpe Ave.
- Additional traffic calming measures desired would be installation of a neighborhood roundabout at the intersection of Oglethorpe Ave and Colonial Dr.;
- Addition of twelve speed tables to correct improper spacing of the existing speed tables.
In order for the City to fund the calming measures, a lien will be placed on the abutting properties of the improvements and will be charged annual cost and charges for the maintenance and operation, a fee not to exceed $25.00 parcel per year until the annual costs have been covered. The city may increase the annual cost should their costs increase to a level the fees do not cover the costs.
Councilman Bates Mattison, who represents Brookhaven Heights, worked with the Community for over a year to help walk them through the process of gathering the required support to navigate the process. He says traffic calming is an important issue in Brookhaven neighborhoods, particularly cut-through traffic because major roads are often congested.
Another contributor to the cut-through traffic may be amplified due to smartphone applications such as the Waze Traffic App, which allows users to use alternate routes, such as neighborhood streets, to get around bottlenecks.
“I’m not certain this is the primary cause, but it could certainly be a significant contributor,” Mattison told The Post. “We as a city are looking at several traffic calming measures which we hope your residents see reduced speeds as well as provide a sense of safety should they decide to get outdoors and walk around their community.”
According to Waze, their app is the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app. They say, “other drivers in your area who share real-time traffic and road info, save everyone time and gas money on their daily commute.” But one unfortunate byproduct may be the volume in which neighborhoods experience cut-through commuters.
Area residents are writing letters to all of Brookhaven’s City Officials asking for a more holistic approach rather than dealing with the issue on an individual basis. The community is suggesting that at worst (or best) the city only install temporary measures and study their impact before making a permanent installation.
They are also asking the city to do this before and during the school year to get the clearest picture of the issues. Residents are also asking for both the Brookhaven Fields (which Mattison also represents) and Brookhaven Heights communities be considered together for traffic calming solutions as they are in the same character area in the city’s Comprehensive Plan, and what affects one, affects both.
City Officials say the community will have the opportunity to speak during the City’s next Council Meeting on June 7th. The agenda has not been posted as of yet but will be here when it is.