In an effort to give citizens safer walking options, Dunwoody is planning to construct 5-foot-wide sidewalks and 2-foot wide grass buffers on more than 10 roads by the end of this year. The city unveiled its sidewalk construction plans last week at an open house meeting where citizens got an up-close look at aerial views of the plans. The budget for the project is just over $1 million for design, surveys and construction.
Michael Smith, director of public works, said that it is still early in the design phase for most of the roads and the city will take public comments into consideration as designs are developed. Sidewalk designs for Mount Vernon and Chamblee Dunwoody Roads are already pretty far along, said Smith, so the city is not anticipating changes there.
“We already received some comments from meetings that we had for those roads and we made some adjustments,” said Smith.
As an example, Smith said the city met with residents from Dunwoody Station along Mount Vernon Road and incorporated a resident’s suggestion into the sidewalk design.
“Somebody suggested that we wrap the sidewalk that we’re putting in on Mount Vernon and have it come down to the first street in Dunwoody Station because there’s a steep hill there and it’s kind of unsafe walking up that hill with a stroller,” said Smith. “So we looked at that and we ended up adding that segment.”
Smith said he anticipates that the construction on the Mount Vernon and Chamblee-Dunwoody Road sidewalks will begin in June because those plans are tied in with city road paving plans.
“Those roads were scheduled to be resurfaced this year and as part of that we’re going to add the bike lanes,” said Smith.
Merry Carmichael, a homeowner in the Trailridge neighborhood on Mount Vernon Road, is concerned about the 5-foot bike lanes planned for both sides of Mount Vernon Road.
“They are going to widen the street by two feet to accommodate the bike lanes,” said Carmichael. “They are going to narrow the traffic lanes. The street right now is 30 feet wide. We’re used to having 15 feet on each side even though the lanes are marked at 12 feet.”
Carmichael also expressed her concern for the safety of cyclists as residents use an existing turn lane to enter the Trailridge neighborhood. Drivers might not see a cyclist approaching from behind as the driver merges into the turn lane, said Carmichael.
Smith confirmed that the plan for Mount Vernon Road is to widen the road by 2 feet and that the existing travel lanes will be narrowed to 11 feet when the project is complete. The actual asphalt part of the planned bike lanes is 4 feet, said Smith, and the width from the curb to the white stripe of the travel lane is 5 feet.
“The national standards used to allow 4-foot bike lanes where you had curb and gutter, but now it’s 5 feet and so we are doing the minimum width bike lanes,” said Smith. “And the 11-foot travel lanes are a pretty standard lane width. The lanes out there now are a little wider than that.”
Smith also said that many travel lanes in the city are 11 feet and that some roads are 10 feet wide.
Parts of Roberts Road, the Dunwoody side of Dunwoody Club Road, and North Peachtree Road near Chesnut Elementary School and are all 10 feet wide.
Carmichael was disappointed with the format of the meeting. She was under the impression that there would be a formal presentation instead of an open meeting.
Steve Barton, homeowner in a neighborhood off of Womack Road, will be impacted when the city constructs sidewalks along that road because the plan is to also widen the road.
“It’s the widest spot on the road already,” said Barton. “The cars will be nominally 5 feet closer to my house and I don’t want them closer to my house. They are loud enough already.”
Some residents approved of the city’s plans including Linda Shulin who said she was very much in favor of the sidewalks.
John Dwyer, homeowner near Dunwoody Club Drive, was happy to see the plans for a sidewalk along that road because it will connect to an existing sidewalk.
“There is a sidewalk from the Kroger all the way up from Dunwoody Club Drive, and then it stops,” said Dwyer. “It’s about 100 yards short, so coming out of Dunwoody Club Forest or Dunwoody Country Club, you’ve got about 100 yards of walking in the grass.”
Councilor John Heneghan attended the meeting and said that he thought the community was providing good feedback.
“Hopefully we’ll fulfill their wishes come fall,” said Heneghan.
Smith said that the city always gets a few good ideas from citizen comments which prompt adjustments to design plans.
Comments can be submitted until May 14. Citizens can access comment cards and view sidewalk plans in detail on the city’s website at dunwoodyga.gov.
In addition to the aforementioned roads, other streets planned for sidewalk construction include: Womack Road, Valley View Road, Happy Hollow Road, Barclay Drive, Meadowlake Drive, Renfroe Lake Drive, Roberts Drive and Old Spring House Lane.