Changing downtown Alpharetta’s traffic flow

Downtown Alpharetta sees a ton of traffic from those commuting from Milton and Cherokee County. Their goal is to ultimately get onto GA-400 southbound. They drive Main Street southbound then shift over to Haynes Bridge. They get to Haynes Bridge by jumping a block east on either Academy or Old Milton.

But the new year will bring two big changes to these traffic flows in downtown Alpharetta. How will commuters adapt to the changes?

The first is the realignment of Haynes Bridge Road between Academy and Old Milton. The road is narrowed from a divided four lanes to two and a roundabout has been installed. The road also shifted to the east  to allow for a contiguous city center project.

The second change is the intersection improvement at Main Street and Old Milton. An additional turn lane was added for soundbound drivers wishing to turn left onto eastbound Old Milton. Landscaped medians and granite curbs were also added.

Jonathan Copsey wrote an interesting article on this topic last week in the Revue and News. It seems that commuters are not using the second, left-most turn lane. The destination of most traffic here is to go south on Haynes Bridge. So turning onto the left lanes of Old Milton isn’t desirable. The result is that traffic is stacking in only one turn lane, backing up onto Main Street. The fact that Haynes Bridge was closed no doubt exacerbated this problem.

Commuters will not likely want to travel the new stretch of Haynes Bridge Road. It is a little out of the way now and the traffic calming efforts are designed to discourage heavy traffic flow. If drivers choose Old Milton then the turn-lane stacking problem may continue, blocking Main Street.

The city would love for commuters to bypass downtown entirely by using the recently completed Westside Parkway. But is that a viable alternative for those driving from the northwest?

How about bypassing Main Street using Canton and Roswell Streets? Or will drivers cut over to Haynes Bridge using Devore Road? Both of these options would put commuters on residential streets.

How do you think commuters will respond to changes in downtown’s streets? Will they work or will they be a catastrophe? Or will drivers find creative alternatives that spread traffic around?

14 Responses to “Changing downtown Alpharetta’s traffic flow”

  1. Julie Hogg January 1, 2013 at 10:03 am #

    Commuters have an amazing intelligence for shortcuts (aka pig paths) . I can only answer the above indirectly perhaps by saying that Highway 140/Houze to Highway 140/Holcomb Bridge to 400 is definitely the shortest distance between two points from where I live but I seldom take it – mainly because of all the traffic lights on Holcomb Bridge. My morning commute is extended by about 2 miles because I drive by Wills Park, across 9 and right on Haynes Bridge. It’s easy and fast for me at 6:00 in the morning.
    So, my frustration is that Ga. Hwy. 140 doesn’t flow better which could benefit both Milton and Cherokee as well.

  2. Michael Hadden January 1, 2013 at 11:54 am #

    They will work.. drivers adapt. There won’t be a traffic catastrophe but there will be people whose long established pattern is now different that will be vocal about how much of a travesty the changes are. Whenever there is a change to an established configuration, drivers figure out how to work with it or get around it. The real question should be do the new configurations successfully encourage pedestrian activity and quality development that will help increase the value of the downtown Alpharetta area while not putting an undue burden on automobile traffic? I think they will be successful. Can’t wait to see what happens in that area.

  3. JAH January 1, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    Great article to start the new year, Lee! I’m curious, too, to see how this plays out. The narrowing of Haynes Bridge is definitely designed to discourage flow through traffic, even though this has been denied by Alpharetta.

    I don’t disagree with the sentiment of attempting to direct the flow through traffic away from the emerging city center, but I think it’s an open question as to whether or not enough has been done to give that volume of traffic a place to go/flow. I see much more traffic on Westside since its completion, but I don’t believe that artery is going to help alleviate the westbound traffic headed for Milton/Chrokee during rush hour.

    The problems with the southbound turn lanes at Ga. 9 to Old Milton (and ultimately to Haynes Bridge eastbound) indicate that more work is needed. Perhaps a 2 lane right turn from Old Milton to Haynes Bridge east would help?

  4. Travis Allen January 2, 2013 at 7:52 am #

    You might be onto something there. Two right turn lanes onto Haynes Bridge might work now that only 1 lane of traffic is crossing the intersection from the Publix side of Old Milton.

  5. Kim January 2, 2013 at 10:24 pm #

    Hate to say it but this was completely predictable to those who drive this stretch every day. I’ve always maintained that Westside Parkway would only take away a small fraction of traffic. hoped I would be proven wrong but sadly I was correct. Westside Pkwy doesn’t help those coming/going from/to NW Milton and Cherokee county.

    Publix employees have also mentioned that the changes have negatively impacted their business and it is no wonder because there is no good way to get in and out of there. The traffic problems are exacerbated during rush hour at a time when many desire to go and pick up something quick.

    Traffic has also worsened because of the inconvenient medians that seem to serve no purpose but to obstruct traffic flow. Mayor Belle Isle made a campaign promise to keep those medians off of Hwy 9. And so it goes.

    I am anxious for the City Center complex to open up so we can cut through there. This may not be the intended purpose but I lay odds that this is how it will be used. So much for the outdoor sidewalk cafes when people are being asphyxiated by exhaust fumes from idling cars.

    Only government would take something working moderately well and make it worse.

  6. John January 3, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

    Checking on the road budget for 2013 it looks like city is studying this concept:

    Maxwell west of main street and Devore are to be rerouted and lined up. Maxwell east of main is to turn in to a T intersection dead ending at Main…
    This means a left at the QT on Haynes bridge will give you a straight shot west of the city center and connect to Main, Old Milton Pkwy, Milton Ave and Hopewell Rd. That will definitely help.

  7. Lee January 3, 2013 at 4:55 pm #

    I tend to agree with Julie. This won’t be a catastrophe, but it certainly doesn’t help commuters. But drivers will find another way. My coworkers from Cherokee are always talking at the water cooler about how to navigate the backroads of Milton and Alpharetta. They will just find new ways, and everything will slowly fill in.

    @John – I have not heard of this option. The problem with this, if I understand it right, is that traffic would flow north on Roswell street to Hopewell. I don’t imagine the garden district residents along these roads would appreciate the added traffic.

  8. Kim January 3, 2013 at 8:41 pm #

    John, that helps if they fix the onerous lights at Old Milton @ Canton and Milton Ave @ Canton.

    Incidentally, this is the reason why Canton is currently not a reasonable alternative to Hwy 9. The lights don’t hold long enough for Canton Street travelers and holds way too long for east/west travelers. Plus, you still have to endure the light at Hwy 9 and Old Milton.

  9. Michael January 5, 2013 at 8:01 am #

    I like the idea of 2 right-turn lanes on old Milton…

    Taking out the median in front of Taco Bell will solve most of the problems. Most mornings, cars could be using the left hand lane if it weren’t for the tire-killer median.

    I also believe that Publix will close within a few years, this whole thing, coupled with Walmart, has decimated their business.

    Downtown better be awesome, because it sure has made a mess of traffic. There is no away around this mess if you live near Mayfield and need to get to 400 in a timely manner.

  10. Jenny January 7, 2013 at 10:24 am #

    I got stuck on Main yesterday behind someone trying to turn left into Taco Bell, blocking traffic (half in the southbound lane, half in the opposite turn lane-for traffic northbound turning left onto Marietta St). That is an accident waiting to happen. It is the catch 22 of this whole development. Divert traffic, but not too much or you divert shopppers too. I will avoid the area as much as possible, especially during rush hours. I will continue to patronize the Publix as I feel like they are unfortunate victims in this and I have no desire to shop in the new “Bentonville Grocer” that has taken up business across the street.

  11. Jimmy January 10, 2013 at 9:16 am #

    Two rights on Haynes would show improvement. Especially for those hitting Starbucks with a sudden right and based on how many cars I see actually going straight on Old Milton.
    The city does medians because the officers love to crack down on cars cutting across the stripes and into opposite lanes. I have seen quite a few pulled over for not waiting for the turn lane entrance up and down Hwy 9 and the non-existent left into Taco Mac.
    I live on Mayfield so don’t have many options to work around the city. Also, How can i find out the planned work on Mayfield? They have painted the street and marked utilities but trying to understand what to expect.

  12. Shaun February 2, 2013 at 6:05 pm #

    I have to agree the medians serve to create unnecessary issues. Unfortunately I used to stop at Publix twice a week, but haven’t been a single time since the poorly thought out construction.

  13. Conflict of Interest March 11, 2013 at 4:45 pm #

    It appears that there may have been a self-serving purpose in the rerouting of traffic off Haynes Bridge to the corner of Hwy 9 and Old Milton. David Belle Isle has now built a monument to himself at that corner with big prominent letters bearing his name at the Convention Center building.

    This calls into question his role and tactics in controlling the City Center plans. Clearly he could not and can not be objective. He obviously wants to build a legacy to himself but his biggest failtuer to date are “Belle Islands” erected down the middle of Hwy 9. According to the number of tire marks, many shipwrecks have occurred here. He campaigned to keep those islands off of there. His failure to honor numerous campaign pledges and self-serving governance makes him unfit to hold this office. We want integrity returned to Alpharetta!

  14. Hank Alexander August 17, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

    I realize this is an old thread but I recently found this blog. I live off Academy St and to go many places I want to make a left onto the New Haynes Bridge Rd. It is very hard to find that one single lane, especially at night. The traffic circle is a joke. It not only is too small but with the bricks and all it is hard to see. Not to mention, that people just don’t know what to do and often don’t yield especially coming out of Publix. Seems to me that the city is trying to drive people away from the town center that we are spending money to create. With Avalon going up and Westside Parkway I think they will succeed in this. Results, downtown Alpharetta will remain a deserted place with businesses like Publix leaving. The place to be to eat, shop and spend time will be Avalon.

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