Published on February 25th, 2015 |1
Buckhead Village road projects paused for variety of reasons
And the forecast inclement weather, which caused the cancellation of the Wednesday night public meeting on the restriping of East and West Paces Ferry roads and Pharr Road, hasn’t helped
matters at all.
Reading between the lines, that was the message of update reports at the Buckhead Community Improvement District’s board meeting Tuesday (Feb. 24)—reports on the Peachtree Road Transformation Project Phases 3 & 4, the turn land project at Piedmont/Habersham roads and those three restriping projects.
First, the hiccup in work on the northbound left turn lane project from Piedmont Road onto Habersham, where work had started but was stopped last week due to a conflict involving utilities. The delay could last two to four weeks, according to CID Transportation Director Brian McHugh.
The problem is that the contractor submitted extra costs to the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) to deal with the extra work required to solve the utilities conflict. GDOT is considering the request, but it’s a government agency and that takes time.
Also, the CID engaged Kimley Horn consultants to find a simple solution to a traffic signal problem involved with the project. The good news is that it all involves AT&T, which has agreed to pay for the work to be done. Construction should be completed in eight to nine months.
According CID Executive Director Jim Durrett, “This is an important project that will benefit people greatly – not only those traveling through the Buckhead Community Improvement District, but also those tenants who work in the corridor. The added turn lane will improve both their morning and afternoon commutes, and the wider sidewalks will benefit pedestrians as well.”
McHugh also provided an update on the largest—and most publicly scrutinized—project, Phases 3 and 4 of the Peachtree Road Transformation from Maple Drive to the south end of The Peach Shopping Center, which corresponds with the southern boundary of the CID.
As for Phase 3, which essentially is a one-block segment stretching from Maple Drive to Shadowlawn Avenue, McHugh told the board the design concept has been approved on the district level of GDOT and now is being reviewed on the state level. After that it will go to final design.
McHugh was hopeful that a firm to handle right-of-way acquisitions could be hired and begin its work on appraisals by this summer and that right-of-way pre-acquisition work might begin in the Fall. However, in response to a question from CID board chair David Allman, McHugh said those acquisitions would likely continue into early 2016.
McHugh said that once Phase 3 pre-construction work is completed, he sees no reason construction work on that phase would be delayed, even if Phase 4 is not ready for construction. There was no estimate presented for that construction start.
As for Phase 4 of the Peachtree Road project, McHugh reported that it is awaiting GDOT to schedule and conduct the promised (and required) public
information meeting. It now appears that April will be the earliest that meeting may happen.
McHugh said GDOT is waiting to schedule the meeting until the Georgia General Assembly has completed its work on transportation legislation and the budget that will be available to GDOT. He said GDOT also must advertise the public meeting at least 30 days in advance of the date.
It was suggested that maybe a public meeting date should be arranged now and advertised and that it could be changed later if necessary. Both McHugh and Durrett said the CID staff is continuing to monitor activity in the General Assembly that would affect the project.
After the public information meeting is held, GDOT will need time to analyze the public comments and consider how they may affect whatever alternative options it might present at the meeting. Then it will have to be determined if a second meeting is necessary or if Phase 4 can go to a final design concept. No timeline was presented for that complete process.
McHugh also presented an update on the restriping of Pharr Road and East and West Paces Ferry roads, which was supposed to have been the topic of a public information meeting tonight at the Atlanta International School. That meeting was postponed due to the winter storm forecast. It has not yet been rescheduled.
McHugh pointed out that the public information meeting is required for the work that is planned to restripe the traffic lanes on Pharr Road and the restriping project for West Paces Ferry, which also includes adding a new pedestrian crosswalk in the middle of the block in front of Whole Foods.
However, McHugh pointed out that the restriping of East Paces Ferry does not require the public information meeting because it essentially is not
changing. Therefore, he said that one project should be able to proceed immediately, before the public meeting is rescheduled.
The West Paces Ferry Road project, from Andrews Drive to Peachtree Road, also will require some action by the Atlanta City Council in order to move forward with the proposed pedestrian crosswalk, which was a request of the city by the CID to add safety to an existing daily practice.
Allman urged the CID staff to work on getting the public meeting rescheduled as soon as possible and to work toward getting that project moving forward, since the CID considers that a high priority.
One final road study discussed at the Tuesday CID meeting involved seeking solutions to the traffic flow problems around Phipps Plaza mall, where Wieuca Road connects to Phipps Boulevard and Peachtree Road. That area, which already is highly congested, now has under construction a new hotel and at least two new apartment buildings that will add traffic to the mix.
Durrett reported that Parsons Brinkerhoff consulting firm has been contracted for $43,000 to study the situation and has begun to organize meetings with the major stakeholders (the hotel and apartments) and a broader group of stakeholders, which will include the North Buckhead Civic Association and property owners in the area.
Durrett told the CID board, “The study should move quickly now.”