Published on March 25th, 2015 |0
Road plans: Peachtree hearing now summer; Pharr re-tweaked
The Buckhead Community Improvement District board of directors for the first time in a while did not have a quorum for their meeting Tuesday (March 24) but those were two bits of information that came from substantial, if informal, discussions of pending projects.
Brian McHugh, the BCID’s director of planning and transportation, told the board that the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has said it is not ready to hold public meetings on Phase 4 of the Peachtree Road plan yet and summer is likely the earliest they will be.
Apparently, GDOT has drawn up options that it believes will best serve the various section of Peachtree Road from Shadowlawn Avenue through the Village to the south end of The Peach shopping center and then continuing down to Deering Road in south Buckhead.
But, GDOT has told the BCID staff that it needs time to better position the various options with the needs and characteristics of the different segments of the road.
McHugh told the board, however, that GDOT has approved the concept plans for Phase 3 of the project, from Maple Drive to Shadowlawn Avenue, and that hiring a firm to work on right-of-way acquisition should begin this summer. However, right-of-way work will continue through 2015.
Construction on that one-block section should begin early in 2016, he told the BCID board.
At the request of BCID Vice Chairman John Lundeen, the representative of Nelson Nygaard consulting firm presented their recommendations for the restriping of both East Paces Ferry and Pharr roads between Peachtree and Piedmont roads, now that the city has repaved both roads.
What was presented to the BCID board members was essentially the same was what was presented earlier this month during a public information meeting at the Atlanta International School, but the consulting firm had tweaked a few aspects of the presentation in response to some of the community concerns they had heard.
The major discussions centered on the two ends of Pharr Road at Peachtree and Piedmont roads, where those intersections are presently rated F (the worst rating) by GDOT.
The plan shown at the public meeting had three lanes westbound at Pharr and Peachtree (one left turn, one right turn and one straight through) with one right turn lane onto Pharr from northbound and southbound Peachtree and a bike lane between the eastbound and westbound Pharr Road lanes.
The consultants now are recommending changing that because there is a Buckhead Atlanta parking garage entrance/exit 100 feet from Peachtree Road on Pharr Road and cars are allowed to turn right or left out of that parking garage ramp.
So, the consultants are now suggesting stopping the bike lane on Pharr Road westbound before getting to the Buckhead Atlanta parking deck entrance. The bikers would have to merge into the traffic lanes at that point, to either turn left or right or go straight through the intersection.
At the intersection of Pharr and Piedmont roads, the traffic lane configuration would remain essentially the same eastbound and a bike lane
would be added. There would be only one lane westbound, however, for traffic turning off of Piedmont Road onto Pharr.
There was a great deal of discussion about how to deal with drivers who traditionally make left-hand turns off of westbound Pharr Road into the Post Office parking lot and left turns out of the Post Office parking lot onto Pharr Road. The problem also exists for the gas station on the corner.
The consultants agreed they should go back to the drawing board and see if there are better solutions for handing the problems associated with the two major intersections at both ends of Pharr Road and return to the BCID board meeting next month when there hopefully would be a board quorum present.
The plan for the rest of Pharr Road—between the two problematic intersections on either end—would remain the same, with one through lane each direction, a center left-turn lane for both directions and a bike lane. There was little objection voiced for that section of Pharr.
The East Paces Ferry recommendations remain essentially the same in terms of road striping as what had been there before the repaving, with the exception of the one-block segment from Peachtree Road eastbound to Bolling Way.
The consultants are recommending a restriping of that area to provide a smoother left turn from East Paces Ferry onto Bolling Way for traffic seeking to get onto Peachtree Road eastbound. They would add a designated left-turn lane in that one-block section.
They also are attempting to better facilitate traffic emerging from Buckhead Atlanta on Bolling Way to get into East Paces Ferry traffic and then make the left turn onto the other part of Bolling Way. The consultants suggested that signage likely will be needed in order to guide drivers through the Bolling Way intersection.
In an attempt to deal with a pedestrian safety problem at the same intersection the consultants suggested maybe a refuge island might be added on East Paces Ferry just east of Bolling Way using the space that had been designated for the left-turn lane. Another possible alternative would be to a raised pedestrian crossing in the area.
McHugh also reported that the other road segment that had been part of the public information meeting—West Paces Ferry Road between Peachtree Road and Slaton Drive—should be restriped shortly back to essentially what it was prior to the last city restriping, which turned out to be a disaster.
The BCID proposed pedestrian refuge island mid-block (to connect the Whole Foods center with One Buckhead Plaza office tower) has been approved as well as a flashing caution light for that new crossing. The refuge island and flashing light are being paid for by the BCID.
That whole project should be completed within 30-60 days.
There was no particular explanation as to why several of the board members were not present, but the CID’s Executive Director Jim Durrett was not at the meeting because he had been chosen to sit on the jury in DeKalb County for a trial.