Published on July 15th, 2014 |7
Peachtree Rd. redo public forum delayed for re-analysis to end of 2014
In response to community comments, the Buckhead Community Improvement District (CID), the Georgia Department of
Transportation (GDOT) and the Peachtree Task Force are conducting additional analysis and vetting additional alternatives before presenting the project to the public again.
It is expected to take the remainder of 2014 to perform this work.
Currently, the stretch of Peachtree Road from Maple Drive, in Buckhead, to Deering Road, just north of I-85 in Midtown, is under review by Georgia DOT and by consultants hired by the Buckhead CID, to determine if a new street design can be developed that would better address the safety and issues and respond to the needs of residents, businesses, motorists and pedestrians today and in the future.
The Task Force held several meetings in early 2014 to introduce the concept of dedicated left turn lanes to improve safety and operations along the Corridor.
“After hearing from our community, our goal is to gather additional information that will help us shape the best transportation facility we can,” said Jim Durrett, executive director of the Buckhead CID.
“We had hoped to hold our next public open house in July to share the latest proposed plans for the corridor,” Durrett added.
“However, both Georgia DOT and the Buckhead CID have decided to take additional time to respond to concerns expressed by residents living in neighborhoods adjacent to Peachtree Road.”
For years the Buckhead CID, in partnership with Georgia DOT, the City of Atlanta and other organizations, has worked to improve Peachtree Road access and mobility.
Their expressed goals of the project are to improve safety on the corridor; to best use the existing capacity to accommodate traffic in a cost-effective way; and to provide a safer environment for an increasing number of pedestrians and cyclists who would prefer to walk and cycle rather than drive a car.
“Peachtree Road is Atlanta’s signature landmark location,” stated Russell McMurry, Georgia DOT chief engineer. “Its current and forecasted high traffic volumes, business locations and residential areas compel us to study more in-depth the solutions that will make it a safer corridor and one that will move commuters and local trips through the area in the most efficient manner as possible.”
McMurry added, “We would prefer to take as much additional time as necessary to re-evaluate and update the data we have than to proceed with a design concept that the community won’t support.”
“From the Buckhead CID’s perspective, our first and foremost priority is addressing existing and future automobile traffic,” said David Allman, chairman of the Buckhead CID board. “If the experts don’t believe that we can make an overall improvement in terms of mobility and safety, then it’s a non-starter as far as we are concerned.”
Allman explained, “We realize that virtually everybody dislikes what was previously done on West Paces Ferry,” referring to the lane restriping by the city of Atlanta between East Andrews Drive and Peachtree Road.
“The public should be assured that this is absolutely not being considered for Peachtree,” said Allman. “In fact, we have already proposed to redo the road striping on that stretch of West Paces Ferry, which would be covered by Buckhead CID funds.”
Plans to remove traffic lanes on Peachtree Road are a concern for some Buckhead neighbors, said resident Nina Schwartz, representing Neighborhood Planning Unit-A, at the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods meeting July 10.
Plans for the road project include reducing travel lanes from six to four along a stretch of road from Maple Drive to Sheridan Drive to make room for bike lanes and turn lanes.
Schwartz said the Peachtree artery is already at high capacity with an average of 45,000 daily vehicles traveling the road. Removing lanes will push traffic to clog surrounding streets and start congesting residential neighborhoods, she said.
She also said neighbors are concerned adding bike lanes on the busy street will be dangerous.
“It’s scary to put a 17-pound bicycle up against a 4,000-pound car,” Schwartz said.
Post 2 at-large Atlanta City Councilwoman Mary Norwood, a Buckhead resident, agreed the plans ought to be adjusted.
“I understand needing to reconfigure Peachtree for turn lanes, but the idea of bicycle lanes and the road diet I am opposed to,” she said.
“Our first priority is to optimize the capacity of Peachtree for safer and more reliable movement of automobiles. However, if we can accomplish this goal and still make Peachtree Road a better place to navigate on foot or on a bicycle, we absolutely should try to do both,” said Durrett.
“It’s important for citizens to remember that the Buckhead CID and GDOT will continue to be transparent on all study findings and design recommendations,” added Durrett.
The Buckhead CID and Georgia DOT will continue to provide progress updates on the project to the public, and once the analysis is complete, another public meeting date will be announced to give residents and business leaders an opportunity to review the data and proposed plans, as well as to provide feedback.
For more information, visit www.buckheadcid.com.