An illustration of the proposed 1400 Murphy Ave. warehouse complex from the website of Prologis.

Amid controversy about traffic safety, the developer of a Southwest Atlanta warehouse project is proposing a four-way stop and some kind of truck-friendly turn at a key intersection, according to documents obtained by SaportaReport.

The draft traffic study and other documents for Prologis’s 1400 Murphy Ave. project do not make it clear what “improvement” is planned for the intersection of Murphy and Dill Avenue, though a turn-enabling “truck apron” is discussed. The documents show the developer rejecting Atlanta Department of Transportation (ATLDOT) suggestions for smaller trucks, and ATLDOT officials repeatedly suggesting the removal of sidewalks to make room for the vehicles.

Prologis is remaking the 32-acre site of a historic Nabisco snack factory into a warehouse and logistics complex. Its traffic study estimates the facility will generate 340 net new heavy-truck trips a day, and 454 net new vehicle trips overall. To access the site, trucks would be directed through two intersections about a block away: Murphy and Dill, and Dill and Lee Street. Both intersections are known for tight turns that currently force trucks to drive the wrong way or onto the sidewalk. 

ATLDOT requested a new, fuller traffic study following local controversy last year about the plan as voiced in meetings of Neighborhood Planning Unit X (NPU-X). Approval of that plan is the last step before an initial site-disturbance permit is issued. NPU-X recently voiced concerns that it has been unable to see the draft study and might not until it is too late for review and comment. ATLDOT and Prologis did not immediately provide the study to SaportaReport, but ATLDOT did so this week following a request under the Georgia Open Records Act, along with some internal meeting notes and official comments

The traffic study, created by Prologis consultant Kimley-Horn, is still awaiting final approval. According to the documents, the developer must provide “design plans” for the intersection improvement before ATLDOT will sign off. In addition, the developer has applied for a building permit and is awaiting a round of City comments about that, according to the documents. 

The study, dated to February, identified a collision history at both intersections. In 2021, the Murphy/Dill intersection had “at least 6 angle crashes … which could be corrected by a traffic control signal,” the study says. The intersection currently has stop signs on Murphy only. 

The Lee/Dill intersection also includes Campbellton Road and features the main Oakland City MARTA Station. That intersection has seen five incidents where vehicles hit pedestrians or bicyclists, according to the study. Kimley-Horn emphasized that in four of the five incidents, the pedestrian was determined by authorities to be at fault. 

Without mitigations, the project’s traffic would push the Murphy/Dill intersection to the lowest “level of service” – essentially meaning a traffic jam and other problems at peak hours, according to the study. 

A truck making the turn from Dill Avenue onto Murphy Avenue southbound is forced to enter the wrong lane, as seen in a Kimley-Horn report for Prologis’s development.

And there’s the issue of trucks heading southbound on Murphy being forced by the tight corner to go into the wrong lane. That may be legal under national street standards, the study says, but it can be dangerous. 

For general traffic mitigation, the consultant and ATLDOT looked at four-way stop signs or a traffic light and settled on the former.

For the turning issue, a variety of alternatives were discussed. In the study, Kimley-Horn proposed convex mirrors, a vehicle-detection system with flashing lights, and sidewalk bulb-outs. “Consider planning all truck movements to occur during off-peak, low traffic times of day, to reduce the number of potential vehicle conflicts,” it added.

In an April meeting, ATLDOT officials suggested allowing only smaller trucks to use the facility, but Prologis would not agree. “Limiting the type of trucks would limit the potential tenants and make it more difficult to lease out the site,” was the reply attributed to the company in meeting notes.

Another idea was removing left-turn lanes to make the remaining lanes wider for more truck-turning room. In roughly the next four years, ATLDOT expects a lane on Dill to be removed and configured into a bicycle lane under Atlanta BeltLine Inc. and City plans.

Sidewalk removal was another brainstorm. “The sidewalk along the westside [sic] of Murphy Avenue south of Dill Avenue may not be needed,” said ATLDOT officials in meeting notes. “Removal of sidewalk could provide an additional 5′ of pavement.”

Yet another idea was a “truck apron,” meaning a paved area with a curb that bars pedestrians and smaller vehicles, but that trucks can drive atop to make tight turns. Truck aprons are a standard feature of roundabouts, but are now being used on regular intersection corners, according to the blog of the transportation consultant Alta. An ATLDOT official suggested that is a way to “improve” the intersection’s southwest corner “so that pedestrians would not wait where trucks cross.”

The “suggested path forward” from the meeting notes is an “improved” southwest corner, which is not detailed there but may refer to the truck apron. “This improves the pedestrian environment and improves conditions for truck turns at this intersection,” the notes read.

As for the Dill/Lee intersection, ATLDOT comments say it was a driver of the new study because trucks often drive onto the northeastern corner to make the turn. “Need to redesign intersection to avoid overtracking of the NE corner sidewalk,” according to the comments. “This was a major ped[estrian] safety concern and the reason we requested the additional study…”

But Kimley-Horn downplayed this, apparently with success, in an April meeting with ATLDOT officials. The consultant claimed that data “indicates that trucks only slightly track over the curb and do not track over the NE corner of the intersection.” It also claimed that pedestrians wait for a crossing light on a traffic island, not on that corner. It is silent on other pedestrian uses of the sidewalk.

Prologis is “amenable to upgrading wayfinding signage in the area” to direct pedestrians to another MARTA station entrance on Murphy “so they don’t have to cross Lee Street,” according to the meeting notes. The developer intends to improve access to that entrance as another part of its plan. Compared to going directly across Lee to the station, such a route is about 150 feet longer and involves at least one additional street crossing. 

The notes indicate an ATLDOT desire to eventually improve the Murphy/Lee intersection, but Lee also doubles as a state route controlled by the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The traffic study also addresses the intersection of Murphy and Arden Avenue, which borders the warehouse project site. A speed table will be added on Arden, east of Division Place, to complete a system of others in the area, according to the meeting notes.

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  1. It should be clear that a huge, busy warehousing complex such as this belongs out in the Fulton Industrial District (built for in part for large distribution centers) or on the periphery of the metro area as now seen in large buildings constructed directly adjacent to I-85 north and south of the city. 340 ‘heavy trucks’ a day (and night) spell intense congestion for the tight Murphey-Dill Ave- Lee St.-Campbellton Rd. location and for residents of the adjacent neighborhoods. (Sylvan Hills , Capital View)
    Were this project being planned adjacent to Va-Hi, or Buckhead, you can be sure it would have been squished like a bug from the get-go…….but this is south of I-20, so………

    1. the residents had plenty of time to complain but they did and said nothing until the Buckhead boys had quietly sold the property with a bunch of false promises to keep the neighbors quiet. this project could have easily been stopped however the former councilwoman was “already on the payroll “ and stopping it would require organization and dicipline; something lacking on the Westend. So you get what take not what you wait for. This will be an absolute horror to the neighbors traffic wise. It could have been something so cool but warehouses pay the dividends so once again the southside gets the warehouses and the northside gets the dividend check.

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