Published on September 30th, 2015 |5
Roundabout favored by CID to help Phipps Blvd./Wieuca Rd. intersection
A study of the busy intersection of Wieuca and Phipps roads—just north of Peachtree Road and near Phipps Plaza—has concluded the best option for traffic relief would be accomplished by converting it to a roundabout that would connect to five roads and major driveways.
It also would cost more than $2 million, the most of the three alternatives studied by Parsons Brinkerhoff for the Buckhead Community Improvement District as ways to fix the confusing and problematic intersection. The BCID board heard the report at its Tuesday, Sept. 29, meeting.
The BCID board passed unanimously a resolution to move forward with the roundabout plan to improve traffic flow at the intersection.
Parsons Brinkerhoff studied three possible alternatives for the intersection and took into consideration a mixed-use development, new apartment buildings and a hotel—either presently under
construction or about to start—which will add congestion to the area around the intersection.
“This is our 23-hour solution,” said Parsons Brinkerhoff’s Jonathan Reid. “Most parts of the day, it works great and provides a safety benefit.” But, he added, “In the p.m. peak, it is what it is.”
Reid explained that creating a multi-lane roundabout improves traffic flow through the intersection without taking too much property. The study said a roundabout would cost about $2 million for construction, not including the cost of acquiring necessary rights of way.
“It is the most expensive, but it does meet the environmental demands and it’s safer for the motorists and pedestrians,” Reid said.
The current intersection has a free-flowing merge lane, where some drivers are unsure whether they are supposed to yield to oncoming traffic or stop, Reid told the CID board.
The first alternative offered by the consultants would involve adding left turn signals at a cost of about $250,000. While the signals would also allow
pedestrians to cross safely, signals won’t help the traffic backing up along Wieuca Road, Reid told the CID board.
“While it does provide some safety, the movement is so heavy that the queue would start to back up on Wieuca and create other operational problems,” Reid stated.
The second alternative presented involved widening Phipps Boulevard/Weiuca Road from three to four lanes. This option wasn’t popular with adjacent residents and stakeholder groups that wanted to preserve the area’s character. That option would cost an estimated $1 million, Reid said.
It is like “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” fable Reid said comparing the three alternative options. Two options were unacceptable and the third — the roundabout — was “just right.”
Sally Silver, who works for Dist. 7 City Councilman Howard Shook and lives just up the road from the intersection in the North Buckhead neighborhood, told the CID board, “The neighborhood is 100 percent behind this option.”
Shook, who sits as a member of the CID board, expressed concerns about the traffic at Old Ivy and Wieuca and about pedestrian safety in the area. He was told the roundabout should make it easier for traffic getting out of Old Ivy. “It makes it easier and faster,” Reid said.
CID Board Chairman David Allman asked if the roundabout would be the preferred solution if the Wieuca Baptist Church property should be redeveloped, to which Reid responded yes.
The layout shows dual lanes with five legs. Drivers would have to decide what lane they needed to be in to get to their exit. Reid said one lane would empty directly into a new driveway to the
Wieuca Road Baptist Church parking lot.
The church would lose some of its parking where the new driveway will be located, but replacement parking was said to be an option on the church property.
The next steps for the project include talking to rights of way owners and finding funding. The properties that would most likely be impacted would be a pocket park owned by the city, the church’s parking lot and property owned by Columbia Development.
CID Director of Transportation and Planning Brian McHugh told the board, “We have not measured the space needed or evaluated the cost of purchasing the right-of-way. But, the cost of right-of-way and moving utilities is not included in the $2 million cost estimate.
The BCID expects to contribute a significant amount toward the project, Executive Director Jim Durrett said. He told the board it is not a good idea to involve the Georgia Department of Transportation in the funding of this project. Some of the funding may come from the city’s infrastructure bond funds with the help of City Councilman Shook.