Mount Vernon Road

A pedestrian approaches the crosswalk on the south side of Mount Vernon Road near Stratham Drive. The City of Dunwoody is considering options to improve safety along the stretch, which carries a hefty volume of vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic.

DUNWOODY, Ga. — It’s a tough trek for bicyclists and pedestrians on Mount Vernon Road at Corners Drive, where the sidewalk ends.

The lack of a sidewalk on the south side leaves pedestrians and bicyclists clinging to a narrow shoulder or onto the edge of front yards.  

Pedestrians can access a signaled crosswalk between Stratham Drive and Forest Springs Drive to cross Mount Vernon. Bicyclists may travel on, battling a high-traffic thoroughfare without a designated bike lane.

It’s no picnic for motorists either. There are no left-turn lanes or traffic signals, and motorists must always be on the lookout for pedestrians and cyclists. Foliaged trees and short vantage points don’t help.

The potential dangers have spurred Dunwoody city officials to develop three improvement options for the area. The proposals would affect the section of Mount Vernon between Corners Drive east to Mount Vernon Place. The three proposals would conclude the city’s multi-year plan to improve a road that connects commercial and residential sections of the city.

Plans include a shared use path for bicycles and pedestrians on the north side and a new sidewalk on the south. The three options have some variation.

The first calls for adding left-turn lanes on Mount Vernon Road at Vernon Lake and Meadowlake Drives. The remaining westbound lane at Forest Springs Drive would be reduced to a shorter right turn lane. This option includes a pedestrian refuge island with flashing lights to aid crossing Vernon Lake and Forest Springs Drive.

The second option includes all elements of the first, except the westbound lane near Forest Springs Lane would be converted to a through lane instead of a short right turn lane. Option Two aligns with the recommendations of the city’s transportation plan.

The final option excludes a pedestrian island and upholds the travel lane on Mount Vernon as they are today. Turning lane improvements are deferred to a future long-range project. If selected, this plan may result in repetitive construction in coming years.

“The goal of this project is to continue with pedestrian and bicycle improvements on Mt. Vernon Road as recommended in the city’s Transportation Plan and Sidewalk Improvement program,” Dunwoody Public Works Director Michael Smith said.

The city’s transportation plan, released in 2017, estimated 20,000 vehicles travelled on Mount Vernon Road each day. In the years between 2012 and 2015, 27 vehicle crashes occurred in the area proposed for the new development. Ten were injury accidents.

The plan concluded that Vernon Lake, Stratham, Forest Springs, and Meadowlake Drives would benefit from having a dedicated left turn lane. It also attributes “unsignalized” intersections to elevated crash frequency.

Specific cost estimates and construction timelines are unavailable. Early predictions and conceptual drawings are available on the project website, dunwoodyga.gov/mtvernon.

The website includes a public comment survey that runs until Oct. 23.

Dunwoody Capital Projects Manager Ishri Sankar said the first two options would be similar in cost, while expenses for the third option would be lower in the short term and higher in the long term because road improvements would be deferred to the future.

“Since we do not have detailed plans developed, it’s difficult to put a time frame on construction for any of these concepts as utilities, right of way/easement acquisition, and permitting would all impact timeline,” he said.

Funding is expected to be finalized by the year 2025.

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