Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The First Step

As of this writing, we have 50% of the signatures needed in order to request that the City commence its study of the Stonington corridor.  The most common concern among the folks with whom I have spoken so far is regarding what happens next.  Some have expressed concern about fixes being implemented without review, others have expressed concern about the nature of potential fixes.  These concerns are important, but will not be addressed in this process until later.

Right now, the only action that the petition will bring about is to secure the City's attention in the form of a study.  Once the study is conducted and the results are published, then discussions about how and if fixes shall be implemented will begin.  I will be sharing all information as it becomes available.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A note to our Stonington Road neighbors

***This is a note that I emailed this morning to several neighbors.  If you did not receive this note, I do not have your email address.  Please send me a note through the "comments" section if you would like to get on the distribution list.  Thomas****

Good morning all,

After watching too many cars barrel through our stop sign at breakneck speeds, I have decided to do something.  I have started the process of requesting that the City of Dunwoody explore traffic calming measures for Stonington Road.  The first step is securing signatures on the “Initial Interest” form, which simply is the City’s way of ensuring that there is enough interest in beginning the traffic study. 

My rough calculations indicate that there would be 36 affected homes abutting Stonington Road, which would mean that we need the signatures of 8 families to begin the study process.  I am emailing this group to let you know that I have started the signature gathering process, and am seeking your support.  I hope to reach out to our other neighbors shortly (likely in person, since I do not have their emails), but I wanted to let you know of the effort underway.

I have also launched a blog that will detail the A-to-Z journey of navigating this process, so that other portions of our neighborhood may benefit, and hopefully avoid any issues that we encounter.  The blog is http://dunwoodytraffic.blogspot.com/, and will include all of my correspondence with the city, as well as notes about where in the process we currently find ourselves.

What I am asking for at this time is twofold:

1)   Please help the effort by endorsing a study.  There is no actual course of action created by the study, but simply knowledge of the scope of our issues.  I will be happy to bring the petition to your home at a time of convenience for you.
2)   Please share this effort with your Stonington neighbors.  We will need 70% support to enact any solution once the studies are done.  This represents approximately 26 households.

Thank you for your support, and if I can answer any questions, please let me know.

Thomas O’Brien
4260 Huntington Circle
Dunwoody, Georgia 30338

Cc:         Councilman John Heneghan
DNCA President Gerri Penn

Some Relevant Documents

I have hosted three important files that folks reading this blog might find of use.  These were supplied to me by Ms. Jada Drysdale, the Public Works Administrative Assistant.  They are all in PDF format, so you will need to have the ability to read Adobe Documents on your local machine.

1.  The City of Dunwoody Traffic Calming Policy

2.  Traffic Calming Procedure Flow Chart

3.  Initial Interest Form (Specific to Stonington Road)

Item 3 is the form I discussed in a previous post that demonstrates a desire for the City of Dunwoody to conduct a study on the affected road.  I included it for reference only, and if you desire to initiate this process on your own street, you will need to make contact with Ms. Drysdale for a similar form.

How do we get the City of Dunwoody's attention?

After speaking with my very responsive City Councilman, and the Dunwoody North Civic Association, I was given the appropriate contact at City Hall, who was kind enough to share the steps that need to be followed in getting the City's attention.

1.  Identify the problem in an informal communication with the city.
2.  The City will then provide an "Initial Interest" form with some information, and a petition which requires 20% interested among those folks on the street that are requesting calming measures.  This is a timed endeavor, in which 45 days are given to return the form.
3.  Once the petition is received, an Engineering Study is conducted by the city to determine the nature, scope, or even existence of a significant problem.
4.  After a significant problem is identified, passive calming methods are suggested and implemented.
5.  Then meetings with homeowners occur and active methods are suggested.
6.  Preliminary designs are made, and a formal petition is sent to homeowners.
7.  If the petition garners 70% support, there will then be public hearing and council review, after which, if approval is granted, the design will be finalized, and construction will begin.

With regard to the Stonington Road issue, I am at the very beginning of Step 2, though I suspect gaining the interest of seven homeowners along this corridor will not be difficult.

So what do I propose?

It's easy to discuss problems, but solutions are often more difficult in the coming.  I am sure that there are a number of solutions that would be more than adequate, but here are a few.  Most of these will require the assent of a super-majority of the affected parties, so calming measures may certainly take a variety of forms. I have listed several, though these are not necessarily desirable or practical.  Ultimately, I would like to begin to dialog about how to prevent the traffic problems on our street.

Some potential solutions (in no particular order) -
1.  Speed Humps - These large bumps are very effective in slowing folks down, and do not require much maintenance.  They can be inconvenient when driving a car with a low suspension, but in most cases they provide a solid "one size fits all" solution.

2.  Islands at Stop Signs - Speaking from my own personal experience, I think that these are an attractive way to enforce stop signs, and reduce the inertia that propels so many cars down Stonington at break neck speeds.  By forcing folks to observe the stop signs, or at least slow down appreciably, this thoroughfare becomes a lot less desirable as a "speed through", and folks may seek other alternatives.

3.  A Stonington "One Way Turn" Island at Tilly Mill - This would prevent a lot of the traffic that turns from Tilly Mill onto Stonington when cutting through. I would be interested to study where the cut through traffic comes from and see if an alternative like this would be workable.

4.  Close the Intersection of Tilly Mill and Stonington - Apparently in years past this was done.  I think that this is a drastic solution that would affect a number of residents well beyond those who are affected by the Stonington Traffic.  I suspect that a solution such as this would be the source of a great deal of contention.

4.  Increased Police Presence - This is always desirable, but in truth, I would prefer to allocate police resources toward addressing and preventing the most serious crimes that are occurring in Dunwoody.

5.  Digital Speed Limit Signs with Radar - I do not know how effective these are, but with the number that are springing up, I would imaging that there are studies somewhere that justify their use.  I would think that these would probably slow some distracted drivers down, but not those who know full well what they are doing.

Let's all calm down...

After conversations with multiple friends and neighbors, it appears we all agree that Stonington Road could benefit from improvements.  From my vantage point, I see three major issues that should be addressed.

1)  Speed - Stonington Road is a hill, and it is easy to catch a good head of steam heading down the road, but 50-60 mph is a problem, especially given the number of children who live along the road.  The speed problem gives rise to the next concern.

2) Observing Traffic Signs - There are two stop signs in the middle of the journey between Tilly Mill and East Kings Point.  These stop signs are ignored on a ridiculously frequent basis, especially by those cars who are travelling at high rates of speed.

3) Cut Through Traffic - Our homes are in a strategically advantageous location.  We know this, and it likely factored into our decision to buy homes in Dunwoody.  We all should expect a certain measure of culpability for "coming to the nuisance".  However, Stonington is closed as a cut through during rush hours, and in fact our entire neighborhood is covered by "No Thru Traffic" signs, but these are frequently disregarded as well.

When these three problems come together at once, we create unsafe conditions for foot traffic, bike traffic, and even children who play in their yards.  I am seeking the city's help in reducing the impact of these three problems on Stonington Road.

A bit of background...

The purpose of this blog is to provide a central rallying point for Dunwoody residents who are seeking to make improvements to the thruways.  I will also be using this website to educate folks regarding the process of seeking the city's attention to these issues, and to journal the progress of my own efforts to secure traffic calming measure on Stonington Road.

It is my hope that we are able to group together and seek the city's attention for a number of hotspots within our neighborhoods that remain unsafe for foot traffic.  If you have any ideas regarding how to improve this site, please leave feel free to leave a comment below.