Tucker’s Engineering Team Tackling Longstanding Road Problems with New Solutions
The discussion over transportation in metro Atlanta often leads back to one word: traffic. But, more important than getting drivers to their destinations quickly is getting them there safely. That’s the opinion of traffic engineers like Tucker’s Ken Hildebrandt, who spend their days toiling in front of a computer and in the field, searching for solutions to make roadways safer.
Hildebrandt and his team have long been focused on intersection safety. In Tucker’s Transportation Master Plan, consultants examined the most accident-prone roadways and intersections. Recommendations were made to the Mayor and City Council and, over time, some of these intersections have been redesigned – or even reimagined – into safer, more common sense designs.
“It’s not that Tucker’s roads are any more dangerous than other municipalities,” Hildebrandt explained. “It’s just that we have opportunities to reduce accident rates on some of Tucker’s roads. And that’s exactly what we are doing.”
Here is a look at some of the projects that have been completed, are in process, or are in the long-term planning stages here in Tucker.
Lawrenceville Highway at Fellowship Road
The problem? Drivers for years had been cutting over in the middle of this intersection, trying to go straight from the dedicated turn lane. There were close calls, fender benders and full-on accidents with injury.
The solution? Converting a northbound through lane of Fellowship to a southbound left turn only lane. This allowed for three lanes southbound across the intersection, noticeably reducing the dangerous activity from drivers.
The outcome: Project completed in February 2019
Ken’s take: “With the number of complaints and near accidents we saw at this intersection, we knew something needed to be done. This was one of the quicker fixes that I’ve been a part of, especially in that drivers adapted to the changes almost immediately.”
Highway 78 at Brockett and Cooledge Roads
The problem? This has long been one of the most awkward and dangerous intersections in Tucker. It boils down to cars getting off US-78 coming in from the east not being able to turn safely onto Brockett Road. This resulted in some very risky driving behaviors that have led to injury crashes.<
The solution? A new traffic signal was installed at the US-78 on/off ramp. It will take a lot of coordination with the signal at Cooledge Road, but now drivers can safely enter Tucker or Clarkston via 78 with a green light.
The outcome: Project completed in May 2021
Ken’s take: “This was an intersection that, because of the way it was designed, there was no obvious fix. After a lot of design work, we are confident this additional signal will increase safety for the drivers on Brockett Road.”
Highway 78 at Mountain Industrial Boulevard
The problem? This intersection has the highest number of accidents in the City of Tucker with almost 1,000 accidents, including 262 injuries, over a five-year period.
The solution? Realign the US-78 ramps, improve traffic signals and install a median at selected sections to reduce left turning movements.
The outcome: Engineering design will begin soon; construction is several years away.
Ken’s take: “In partnership with the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Tucker Summit Community Improvement District, the City is leveraging almost $6 million of state and federal transportation dollars to make these safety improvements.”
Chamblee Tucker Road
The problem? Drivers have long turned this four-lane road into their own personal autobahn. While the speed limit signs say 40, it’s not unusual to see drivers going well in excess, even in the school zone in front of Livsey Elementary School.
The solution? The Mayor and City Council have allocated money in their Fiscal Year 2022 budget (to be voted on later this month) to completely reimagine Chamblee Tucker as a “complete street”. This would take the road from four lanes to three, with the extra surface area being devoted to bike lanes, turn lanes and a center median. It would potentially lower the speed limit and lead to installation of new flashing beacon pedestrian crosswalks.
The outcome: The project is under design and could be completed in 2022
Ken’s take: “The goal of this project is to convert Chamblee Tucker Road from an arterial to a collector street by implementing a “road diet”. The bike lanes, turn lanes, and pedestrian signals will greatly improve the safety of vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
Lavista Road at Fellowship Road
The problem? This is the dreaded “triangle” intersection just to the west of Tucker High School. Cars can turn right or go straight from Lavista onto Chamblee Tucker, often causing accidents. Cars have no dedicated left turn arrow to go from Fellowship onto Lavista, often causing dangerous driving behaviors. It is, quite simply, an inefficient intersection.
The solution? None yet. City consultants have looked at multiple traffic models to determine the safest and most traffic-efficient improvements.
The outcome: The Mayor and City Council will review these alternatives and determine a path forward. Staff will likely seek federal funding for the improvements.
Ken’s take: “This is another improvement that will reduce traffic congestion as well as enhance safety. Because the process to obtain federal funding for roadwork on a state route is quite lengthy, the improvements may be a few years away. But, we are excited to get the design started.”