Roundabout may improve backups at Buckhead intersection

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Buckhead leaders are considering a five-legged, two-lane roundabout as a solution for backups at the intersection of Wieuca Road and Phipps Boulevard. The project would come with a $2 million price tag, not including the cost of attaining rights-of-way from property owners.  Jonathan Reid, of Parsons Brinckerhoff, the Buckhead-based engineering consultancy firm hired to study the intersection, said the roundabout provided the best traffic relief of the potential solutions his company studied.

It would not, however, be a complete cure for the intersection’s traffic problem.

“This is our 23 hours a day solution,” he told members of the Buckhead Community Improvement District‘s board during its monthly meeting Tuesday at Tower Place.

Reid said the plan would improve traffic flow and safety throughout most of the day, but his models showed traffic flow during evening rush hour would remain largely unchanged. He said opportunities for traffic improvement were limited by the space available and a desire to maintain the area’s character.

Reid presented two alternative plans to the district. The first involved creating left turn signals. This was the cheapest option at $250,000, but Parsons Brinckerhoff’s models suggested it would do little to alleviate traffic. The second would create two new lanes on each side of the road at a cost of $1 million, but Reid described it as “a dud” with citizen groups who do not want to change the local style.

He compared the plans to the bowls of porridge in the story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” He said the first plan did too little and the second plan went too far. The roundabout, he said, was “just right.” Board members suggested the center of the roundabout might someday house a monument, statue or artwork.

District Executive Director Jim Durrett said the next step for the project would be negotiating with property owners for rights of way. Reid said one of the legs of the roundabout would lead to Wieuca Road Baptist Church. He said the roundabout would mean easier access for churchgoers, and that church leaders were on board with the plan.

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