Are drivers able to effectively move around town without accessing congested arterial roads?

This is more of a rhetorical question here in Roswell.  Our city is unfortunately at the convergence of multiple major state highways; 400, 9, 120 & 92.  This creates some significant transportation problems for the city.  Additionally, we are handcuffed by some unique geographic conditions that prevented a more robust road network in certain areas.  Think hwy 9 at the Chattahoochee as well as the 9/120 intersection at the square.  That being said, we still have a ton of dendritic neighborhoods that lack any type of networked connectivity.  Think about virtually any spot outside of the historic district.  Unfortunately, we didn't make a number of intelligent decisions when they could have been made that would have mitigated much of the gridlock that we experience at major intersections.  Some of the worst of these are complete disasters at rush hour such as 400 and Holcomb Bridge.  

So, what does the current traffic situation in Roswell actually look like.  First let's look at some statistics from the 2006 Transportation Master Plan:

  • 7% of trips are totally within the cities boundaries
  • 52% of trips start or end within the city
  • 41% of trips are through the city with no start or end in Roswell
  • 393 miles of public streets are in Roswell. Of these, only 165 miles, 42%, connect to more than one street to form a network
  • 58% street miles are dead end or cul-de-sac streets

I continually make the argument that had the city created more of a grid type street network when the streets were laid out, some (not all) of these problems would have been mitigated.  This image from the 2006 plan illustrates how traffic collects in a typical suburban network and how it can be disbursed with a network which puts less demand on any one road and keeps the intra-city trip completely off the arterial.

Another great visual from the same report is this one which illustrates the effective street network.  That is the network of streets that people use to actually get somewhere outside of their neighborhood, i.e. work, school, shopping, out of Roswell, etc.

The report sums up the consequences of our limited network nicely and hits on many of the ideals of smart growth and new urbanism; "This low percentage of "effective network" has the effect of focusing large amounts of traffic on a limited amount of roads. This creates growing pressure on key corridors and intersections, slowly deteriorating the quality-of-life of the residents and businesses along them. As already illustrated, more network and connectivity balances and distributes traffic, providing more routing options and flexibility particularly for local trips."

To conclude, at this point in Roswell, there are very few ways to get anywhere without accessing one of the major arterials.  Without some major overhauls, that won't change.  One big project that was actually being unveiled to the public tonight is the Big Creek bridge across 400.  It will provide relief to the Holcomb Bridge/400 intersection by offering an alternative route from East Roswell to West Roswell.  The plan looks solid and hopefully the city council will give it the green light.  We certainly need progress in this area.

Image Credits: 2006 City of Roswell Transportation Master Plan