Residents in the area of Peachtree Parkway and Callaway Court in south Forsyth say they are resting a little bit easier now after a recent study by the Georgia Department of Transportation that outlined actions that could be taken to improve the intersection’s safety.
A GDOT traffic engineering report for the intersection of Callaway Court and Hwy. 141, which was undertaken after a wreck that killed one Forsyth County man in January, concluded that although a traffic signal is not warranted at the intersection, by partially or fully closing the median between the east and west sides of Peachtree Parkway at Callaway Court, “crossing conflicts” could be eliminated at the intersection.
“A fully-closed median will eliminate all crossing conflicts; however, business at the intersection will be negatively impacted,” the report states. “Instead, a partially closed median that closes the southbound left turn lane into Callaway Court is proposed to improve safety … a right in, right out driveway at Callaway is strongly recommended.”
According to District Engineer Brandon Kirby, GDOT will still need to see if a permanent solution at the intersection is necessary, but because of the community’s concerns barrels will temporarily be placed at the intersection to restrict left turns in or out.
“We will monitor traffic patterns with this temporary solution before making any permanent changes,” Kirby stated to the Forsyth County News through a spokesperson.
Another GDOT spokesperson said on Tuesday that the temporary barrier at the intersection will be set up on Thursday, May 2, along with a “left turn ahead closed” sign.
Residents in the area raised concerns about the intersection’s safety almost immediately after Siriam Sundaram, 42, died on Thursday, Jan. 21, in a two-vehicle wreck as Sundaram attempted to turn left into Callaway Court from Peachtree Parkway southbound. A group mobilized and started a petition, gathering thousands of signatures from residents expressing their concerns about the intersection.
“We are requesting that a traffic light/signal or a closed median or a no left turn signal, whichever will be appropriate,” said Ponni Chinnamuthu, the author of the petition. “Let’s make the change and be proactive so that another life is not lost because of the insufficient safety measure.”
According to the group, the intersection of Peachtree Parkway and Callaway Court is widely regarded by the community as dangerous for the thousands of vehicles passing through it and the Cherians International Fresh Market each day.
Days after Sundaram’s accident, members of the group met with several Forsyth County Commissioners and representatives from GDOT to have informal discussions about how to make the intersection safer. A few weeks later, eight residents of the area spoke during a Forsyth County Board of Commissioners meeting about the need to improve safety measures at the intersection.
According to Nazeera Dawood, a spokeswoman of the south Forsyth citizens group, the group is happy that the process has taken another step towards a resolution at the intersection.
"We understand that every small intersection cannot meet the requirements of a traffic signal," Dawood said. "But even if it was a small signage, based on the recommendations of the study, we would have been happy."
She said knowing how busy the Forsyth County Commissioners, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office and GDOT is, just knowing their fears had been taken seriously heartened the community.
"They feel heard, even though this is their first time going through this process," she said. "The sheriff didn't have to do any study, but he still went ahead and did the speed study ... Everybody was working towards one goal, safety of the residents."
And even though they had to compromise on getting a traffic light at the intersection, which was what they fervently hoped for, she said that this closed median recommendation has made the community feel safer.
"When we went and told them the recommendation, there was a sigh of relief," Dawood said. "You could see that sigh of relief, a husband feeling protected for his wife and a mom feeling safe for her children.”