A plan by the Georgia Department of Transportation to relieve traffic congestion was the major item on the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods' December meeting Thursday evening.

Representatives from the Georgia DOT presented what turned out to be the hot button issue of the night — concerns about traffic patterns surrounding the I-75 and Mount Paran Road interchange.

The BCN had expressed concerns to the GDOT regarding four different issues with traffic patterns at this intersection. Currently traffic criss-crosses in two directions on Mount Paran Road to access U.S. 41, and travelers exiting from I-75 North and South compete with Mount Paran and U.S. 41 traffic.

The Southbound exit is a single lane that quickly combines with Mount Paran Road. Drivers taking the exit now have the option to turn north or south onto U.S. 41 or continue straight onto Mount Paran Road.

The GDOT's proposed solution is comprised of two parts. GDOT would first construct a lane coming off the southbound exit from I-75. The new lane would be on the left closest to I-75 and be the only option for those who want to access Mount Paran Road or U.S. 41 headed south. A stop sign would be placed at the point where this new lane meets Mount Paran Road.

The current exit lane would be blocked from accessing any direction other than north onto U.S. 41 by a newly constructed median.

BCN members were quick to suggest flaws in the design. Many were concerned that the proposed stop sign would cause traffic to stall all the way up onto I-75, creating a larger problem.

How access to the new North Atlanta High School would be affected was called into question in the discussion because of its close proximity to the intersection. The high school will be located just north of the intersection on U.S. 41 in the old IBM complex.

Representatives from GDOT said they recognize their solution is only eliminating one of the four problems. GDOT Field Engineer Bryant Poole said, “We are only given a certain amount of money and we are gonna do what we can.” The budget for the project is $800,000.

Some BCN members suggested that the Mount Paran Exit could be closed altogether. Poole said he was certain the Cumberland Exit just north could handle the new traffic if Mount Paran were closed. But, another group of BCN members discounted that option for fear the already crowded West Paces exit would have to absorb much of the redirected traffic.

Sue Anne Decker, a project manager for GDOT, said state officials are still in the planning phases and will listen to the concerns of the BCN. Although plans are not final, Decker said the target date for project completion is December of 2012.

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