Many people who live in Northwoods have been discussing traffic along Chestnut Drive, and talking about the need for better speed enforcement or else traffic calming. This has been a long-standing issue, as well as one with a lot of nuance.
Per state law, the Georgia Department of Transportation must approve any road where speed detection devices are going to be used. Before I was elected, in 2017, the Doraville council approved several reductions in speed limit: on Chestnut, Winters Chapel, Oakcliff and Tilly Mill. The changes were made because of legitimate safety concerns about the speed and volume of traffic in these areas – unfortunately, GDOT must approve any road where speed detection devices may be used. By changing the speed limit, Doraville lost its ability to use radar detection on these streets.
I have spoken about this with both Chief King as well as our city manager, Regina Gates. Both have told me that GDOT denied our first request to be able to use radar detection on Chestnut and the other streets. This decision is being appealed right now, but we do not know how the state will rule.
It’s important to note that I also don’t think radar detection is going to solve all the problems with this road. There are some rules that even police using radar detection must follow, which will make enforcement a bit difficult, including:
- The police car using speed detection must be visible from at least 500 feet. On a curvy road (like Chestnut), there may be few places that meet this 500 foot limit (https://law.justia.com/codes/georgia/2010/title-40/chapter-14/article-2/40-14-7/)
- Vehicles must be going 10 miles per hour or more over the speed limit in order for a ticket to be issued (https://law.justia.com/codes/georgia/2010/title-40/chapter-14/article-2/40-14-8/)
- All of the regulations can be found here: https://law.justia.com/codes/georgia/2010/title-40/chapter-14/article-2/40-14-17/
Ultimately, I think that there will need to be some kind of traffic calming installed on Chestnut if this issue is going to be resolved. Before that happens, though, I believe that the community that lives on and that uses that street needs to weigh in on what they would like to see. The city made several “traffic calming” changes to Oakcliff Rd a few years ago, and many people feel that it did not go through a good process for getting citizen input. Rather than move ahead with the same process for Chestnut, I have asked that the city hear from a wide range of people who use that street every day. This process will take longer than just jumping in and doing something, but I hope that the end-result will be better.
I am hoping that this is one of the projects people identified as a priority in the SPLOST survey that was done in December, and that we can get started on the community input process in 2019.