It is sad to read that, despite public opposition, a traffic circle is coming to Pumpkin Center.
This is disturbing on many counts. I attended the meeting in early March at Harlem High School at which the traffic circle was discussed. I was there for at least an hour, and no one I talked to was in favor of it, except for the Georgia Department of Transportation employees. It appeared their mission was to ram it down our throats, and they were not willing to accept the fact that many of us there didn't want a traffic circle at this location.
For each concern addressed by the citizens, they had prepared, stock answers. Traffic congestion? Not if you look at European cities, where they know how to drive with traffic circles, they said. Large trucks? It will be big enough for trucks to maneuver through without problems. Safety? Not a problem, as they are supposedly proven much safer than the current four-way stop. Cost? (This one is my favorite.) It won't cost us anything because the federal government is paying for it!
I heard many comments from the citizens regarding the GDOT's answers to our concerns. It was pointed out that Europeans grew up with the traffic circles and learned them as a matter of course when learning to drive. Also, someone pointed out that these traffic circles always look congested, with traffic moving very slowly.
The fact that this intersection is close to Harlem High School also means there are many teen drivers going through this intersection on a regular basis. Another comment was about the growing amount of truck traffic on the Appling-Harlem Road and the ridiculousness of having a traffic circle where there is so much truck traffic.
It's hard to imagine that a traffic circle is safer if traffic is indeed "flowing" through it. Rather than making sure everyone stops at a four-way stop and making sure that no one goes out of turn, drivers have a lot more to look for and look at while vehicles are in motion. Does this really sound safer to you?
The most ludicrous reason of all is we don't have to pay for it, because it's federal money. For real? With everything in the media regarding overspending at the federal level, let's consider this: If only one county in each state said "no, thanks" to a million-dollar hare-brained scheme, that's $50 million that hasn't been added to the national debt. Think about the possibilities if more than one county per state did the same. Responsible spending needs to begin somewhere; why not here and now?
I had the "pleasure" of encountering a traffic circle just a day or two after this meeting. This circle is on North Decatur Road, not too far from Emory University Hospital. It was rainy, and traffic was moderately heavy. As one travels toward Emory, there is only one side road to the right, Lullwater Road. My husband and I were basically travelling straight through this intersection, but he and other traffic going in our direction had to stop several times as we approached the circle.
Those travelling in the opposite direction were, for the most part, also traveling in a "straight" line, but because there was no way to be sure that any of these cars wouldn't continue around the circle to get to Lullwater Road, no one ventured into the circle until absolutely sure that there was no traffic coming around the bend and that it was safe to do so. At least with a four-way stop, we know that traffic will be stopping. There were several quick and abrupt stops as vehicles approached the circle. With the rain, the chance for a fender-bender was certainly increased.
The last paragraph in the May 5 editorial sums it up: Get our local legislators to "strangle this boondoggle before the first shovel of dirt is turned."
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