Traffic Control

Update from April 2, 2009: "County officials have informed the Traffic Control Committee that the traffic control plan developed by residents of CHCA and MANA must be approved by 65% of the residents of both neighborhoods using an official petition for the plan to be implemented in full. Additionally, the DeKalb Police Department has told County officials that it does not have the capability to enforce the "resident excepted" hour-based turn restriction signs. This, coupled with the immense effort it would take to gather petition signatures would be overwhelming . However, resident homeowners on streets within the CHCA or MANA area can petition for traffic control signage (as listed in the traffic control plan) on a street by street basis, 65% homeowner approval on the street, or portion of street, is needed. For additional details read further." Background On November 20, 2008 after several community meetings, the CHCA/MANA Traffic Control Proposal was finalized and submitted to Commissioner Jeff Rader. There was a meeting on February 5, 2009 to discuss the process of implementation. The final draft is available as a pdf. January 7, 2009 posting with clarifications can be found here. Previous website/eNewsletter posts on this subject can be found here. Articles on this initiative were also printed in the summer and fall 2008 CHCA newsletters distributed by volunteers to every mailbox. Copies in pdf format can be found also here: Fall 2008 and Summer 2008 . Note that the Traffic Control Plan is separate and distinct in terms of county process from Traffic Calming initiatives by property owners on individual streets. However, the arguments laid out for traffic calming and the traffic study done in 2008 on Desmond might be of relevance. See also the results of the Emory traffic study conducted in September 2008. Notes from the meetings follow: I. Meeting I (May 22, 2008) Notes by Tim Bryson, CHCA The first CHCA/MANA Traffic Control Meeting was held Thursday, May 22 at the North Decatur Presbyterian Church. About fifty people attended, including Emory's Assistant Director of Transportation Adele Clements, DeKalb Transportation Director John Gurbals, and County Commissioner Jeff Rader. The meeting was led by John Maynard, vice president-elect of the CHCA board. CHCA board members Tim Bryson and Catherine Larson also were on hand as were MANA board members Kathryn Firago, Theresa Same, and Brenda Prather. After introductions, most of the meeting involved Q&A from the audience. The central thrust was to figure out ways to control cut-through traffic at the entry points into our neighborhoods, that is, at streets that open onto Lawrenceville Highway, North Druid Hills Road, Clairmont Road, and North Decatur Road. The recommended options include posting No Left Turn or No Right Turn or Do Not Enter signs with our without restricted hours. More strenuous options, such as one way streets, closed off streets, and resident only access were also discussed. John Maynard will email a map to those attending and ask them to note problem areas and their suggestions for solutions. The input will be compiled by John together with CHCA and MANA board members then there will be more meetings to review and refine community consensus then the results will be forwarded to John Gurbals for assessment and then ultimately on to the Board of Commissioners for approval. Commissioners Jeff Rader and Kathie Gannon have indicated their support. II. Meeting II (July 16, 2008) Notes by Kathryn Firago, MANA John Maynard began the meeting with an overview of why we need a traffic plan to prepare for the increased building in and around our neighborhood that will be affecting us very soon, if not already. He explained the perimeter control approach that was nicely encapsulated by Jim Alexander after the meeting. It is as follows: Morning traffic control: For traffic along Lawrenceville Highway, Scott Boulevard, & North Decatur Road: • No right turn, 6:00-9:00 am, RESIDENTS EXCEPTED, from Scott Boulevard onto 1) Harrington Drive, 2) Woodridge Road, 3) Larry Lane, 4) Blackmon Road, and 5) Medlock Road. • No right turn, 6:00-9:00 am, RESIDENTS EXCEPTED, from N. Decatur Road onto, 6) Sunstede Road, 7) Suzanne Drive, 8) Wendan Road, 9)Willivee Drive, 10) N. Superior Avenue, 11) Clairmont Circle, and 12) Webster Drive. For traffic along North Druid Hills Road: • No left turn, 6:00-9:00 am, RESIDENTS EXCEPTED, from North Druid Hills Road onto 13) North Hills Drive and 14) Willivee Drive. Afternoon traffic control: For traffic heading south on Clairmont Road: • No left turn, 4:00-7:00 pm, RESIDENTS EXCEPTED, from Clairmont Road onto Desmond Drive, OR • Resident traffic only, all hours (?), Desmond Drive & Webster Road (posted on Desmond Drive at Webster Road). • No left turn, 4:00-7:00 pm, RESIDENTS EXCEPTED, from Clairmont Road onto Clairmont Circle, OR • Resident traffic only, all hours (?), Clairmont Circle (posted on Clairmont Circle at Clairmont Road). Traffic safety: • No left turn, all hours, residents included, from Desmond Drive onto Clairmont Road. • No left turn, 4:00-7:00 pm, residents included, from N. Decatur Road onto N. Superior Avenue. There was also a suggestion to have No left turn, including residents, from Blackmon Road onto Lawrenceville Highway. This is all predicated on getting resident exception to most of the suggested traffic control ideas. We are hopeful to do this at no cost to the neighbors. Initially we thought that when these traffic controls went into effect, police could stop cars that were not registered in DeKalb County and properly licensed for the county. It was mentioned that there could be problems with cars registered in other states that belong to residents who travel extensively outside Georgia or who are living in the Medlock area or CHCA, temporarily as students, physicians or short-term contracted professors. At worst, we may need to get stickers for residents to have in their cars to differentiate them from cut-thru traffickers. John Maynord suggested that we follow through with ordinance and sticker ideas to cover that area in case the DeKalb county license idea doesn’t go over with the county. We will ask the commissioners to review No parking areas on Desmond/Clairmont Circle. III. CHCA/MANA Traffic Control Meeting #3, North Decatur Presbyterian Church, September 18, 2008, 7 p.m. Notes by Tim Bryson, CHCA About 25 people attended this third of four meetings. The last meeting will be scheduled in early November, at which time it is hoped a final proposal will be submitted to the county. The meeting was organized by a committee that includes John Maynard of CHCA and Kathryn Firago, Theresa Same, and Brenda Prather of MANA. The goal is to submit to the county a list of signs we would like to be posted at specified access points on the perimeter of the CHCA/MANA neighborhoods. A handout listed the points proposed so far, and a map was projected showing their location. Most of them prohibit cut-through access during rush hours with residents being exempted. Suggestions were made to add a sign to prohibit turns in the morning from North Druid Hills onto North Hills and in the evening from Clairmont Road onto Powell. It was noted that an overly restrictive system would prevent access to Medlock Park and Medlock School by parents and the Druid Hills Youth Sports league. The committee will review the proposal accordingly. It was also noted that property owners along Desmond Drive have applied for installation of two speed tables between Reckle and Densley. This was a traffic calming initiative made independently of the traffic control initiative. Commissioners Jeff Rader and Kathie Gannon and Transportation Director John Gurbals have expressed their support. Since a couple of the roads are under state jurisdiction, approval and/or implementation could take some time. In addition, the county needs to pass a simple ordinance to allow exemptions for residents. Commissioner Jeff Rader has expressed a willingness to sponsor such an ordinance. It may require that residents obtain a hang tag to identify them as residents. Decals were proposed as an alternative. Criteria for choosing one over the other included transferability and the appeal to burglars. Captain Higdon of the central police district has committed to support the proposal. Other neighborhoods who have already instituted a similar system of signs found that regular enforcement over the first four to six months seemed to suffice to prevent cut-throughs thereafter. Since some attendees said county patrols have been insufficient to enforce even existing stop signs, a resident proposed that Emory be asked whether they could cover the area instead on the assumption that they may have more resources available. It was suggested that Emory and CHOA instruct its employees explicitly not to cut through our neighborhood. It was also suggested that residents call 311 when they want more stop signs or more enforcement at a particular area. The more calls, the better. The intersection at Clairmont and Desmond is one of the most problematic. The current proposal calls for no left turn from Desmond onto Clairmont for safety reasons. John Maynard noted that one of the conditions the county proposed for Emory’s expansion of the parking deck at Clairmont Campus was the installation of bollards or a jersey wall to prevent vehicles from turning left onto Desmond from Starvine Way to Clairmont Road southbound. Cars already in the left lane on Clairmont at the Starvine Way intersection would still be allowed to turn left. Emory has also negotiated with CHCA to add other conditions. Emory will ask the state for approval to install a traffic light at the Clairmont/Desmond intersection and to add crosswalks. And Emory has offered to fund installation of sidewalks on North Superior and Willivee from North Decatur to Desmond. Proposed signage: 1) No left turn onto Clairmont from Desmond 2) No right onto Blackmon 6-9 AM No left onto Scott from Blackmon 6-9 AM and 4-7 PM (Residents Excepted) 3) No right turn onto Larry Lane 6-9 AM (Residents Excepted) 4) No right turn onto Woodridge 6-9 AM (Residents Excepted) 5) No right turn onto Harrington 6-9 AM (Residents Excepted) 6) No right turn onto Webster 6-9 AM (Residents Excepted) 7) No right turn onto Clairmont Circle 6-9 AM (Residents Excepted) 8 ) No right turn onto Willivee 6-9 AM (Residents Excepted) 9) No right turn onto Wendan 6-9 AM (Residents Excepted) 10) No right turn onto Suzanne 6-9 AM (Residents Excepted) 11) No right turn onto Sunstede 6-9 AM (Residents Excepted) 12) School, and Park Traffic Only 6-9 AM (Residents Excepted) 13) No Left onto Willivee Drive from N. Druid Hills (Residents Excepted) 14) No Left turn onto Desmond from Clairmont 4-7 (Residents Excepted) 15) No Left turn onto N. Superior 4-7 PM (Residents Excepted) 16) No Left onto Clairmont Cr. From Clairmont 4-7 PM (Residents Excepted) 17) No Right onto N. Superior from N. Decatur 6-9 AM (Residents Excepted) Next steps: 1) Committee will work to draft the ordinance to provide for the Commissioner to bring to a Board of Commissioners vote. 2) Install the signage that is under County authority first*. 3) Simultaneously work with the County and State to seek approval for all signage that requires state approval AND work to develop the Neighborhood Identity Tags program that will issue the hang tags to CHCA and MANA residents. *Police enforcement can only come after the hang tags have been issued to residents - signs may have a deterrent effect in the interim period. The last meeting is scheduled for 20 November, at which time the final proposal will be submitted to the county. IV. CHCA/MANA Traffic Control Meeting #4, North Decatur Presbyterian Church, November 20, 2008. Notes by Kathryn Firago Traffic Meeting minutes from November The meeting opened with a recap of signage and traffic control vs. traffic calming to bring all the new attendees up to speed on the topic. A resident mentioned Avondale Estates having “No thru traffic” signs. Avondale is its own city and can deal differently within its borders than we can in dealing with county streets. There was a concern voiced about N. Hills street becoming a cut-thru street if we close off Willivee. (This is currently addressed in the newest proposition) What is the next step is a proposal to the County for legal review. The county is to work with the state on Clairmont and L’ville Hwy. We hope to get the signs on the county-controlled roads sooner. At this time, bicycles are not included in the proposed signage. Reducing cut-thru traffic is a major point. This could also reduce personal injuries and property damage. We propose to enact signage first with resident tags for enforcement later. ---An ordinance needs to be drafted by the committee to make signs enforceable. There is a possibility of marrying the residents-only traffic proposition to the resident-only parking program, which could provide our tags for us. Tags could cost as little as $.35 up to $10.00 and the tag would go with the car. A tag would have to be re-registered with a new car. --Tax-increment-district (TID) - There are 2000 homes in MANA and CHCA. A referendum passed by 51% of the voters could make it happen. For approximately $25/household/year, hang tags could come to us and we could get a 24/7 patrol car. This does exist elsewhere in DeKalb County. This would be billed on the property tax through DeKalb Finance. This must be created through the voting process. A resident objected to the hangtag as obstructing a clear view. Stickers could also be a possibility, but would be less portable. A question was raised on how to address visitors who come into the neighborhood in the restricted times. There is hope that common sense would prevail if the visitor could provide an officer with an address, he or she would be allowed to pass into the neighborhood. A resident felt that the “no right turn” was unenforceable and that it was not justifiable for traffic safety. It was reiterated that the purpose was to reduce cut-thru traffic, primarily. The same resident suggested cameras be bought and it was mentioned that they are not going over very well in the county. It was noted that the city of Decatur could be involved in some of this enforcement, but John Maynard said that the county has the right of way to enforce the law. Both Decatur and DeKalb police have been invited to attend our meetings and have declined to come. A resident thanked the committee for its hard work and mentioned that her concern was speeding on Desmond. With the current restrictions on how radar can be used in neighborhoods, speed limits are not easily enforceable currently. Radar certification requires certain visibility that we do not have on Desmond. A resident from Leafmore Creek spoke up to explain how their experience was with their ordinance to reduce cut-thru traffic. Residents were mixed in their support. The ordinance expired and was not renewed. Their neighborhood only has 7 entrances/exits, many fewer than ours. He felt that the signage did help, as did the policing. He also felt that the TID would be an amazing opportunity for a community if it could pass. It was noted that the Sagamore Hills neighborhood is paying a lot of money per household to have a police officer 24/7. A resident police officer in our neighborhood felt it was impossible for the TID to provide a police officer 24/7 on the money generated by a TID. It was then suggested that we could discuss getting Emory police deputized to work in our neighborhood.