Civic Groups

Published on May 12th, 2015 |


Streetcar expansion to Buckhead, walkability plans on BCN agenda

The Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods meeting Thursday night (May 14) will feature two timely presentations—one from two representatives of Beltline, Inc., that could ignite some heated discussion and the second from PEDS, which likely will be received with anticipation and support.

Beth McMillan

Beth McMillan

In both cases, the presentations at the 6:45 p.m. meeting will focus on concepts that will be positioned as about making our neighborhoods and communities more connected. (BCN meets in room 2209 at the Peachtree Presbyterian Church, 3434 Roswell Road.)

Streetcar mapBeth McMillan, director of community planning and engagement, and Nathan Soldat, community engagement advocate, for Atlanta Beltline will make a presentation on what the Beltline is doing, what the future plans and vision are, and how these projects are funded.

Their presentation comes just months after the Atlanta Beltline began ferrying passengers on a streetcar along a 2.7 mile track in the heart of Downtown and just weeks after Atlanta Beltline has proposed a massive expansion of the system, including up Peachtree Road in Buckhead.

At a Beltline meeting last month a proposal was presented that calls for 50 miles of new streetcar routes, ringing the Beltline and bisecting it with north/south and east/west routes. The longest line, as proposed, would run from Ft. McPherson to Buckhead’s Lenox Square.

The plan also calls for circulators and shuttle services to get people to the streetcars. (Funny, we thought the streetcar was originally billed as a “circulator service”.)

Nathan Soldat

Nathan Soldat

The plans for the expanded streetcar service call for the same infrastructure and mixed-traffic approach that the current streetcar loop uses, which could mean additional traffic delays for motorists and streetcar riders alike.

Why is this likely to ignite heated discussion? Because during the “Connect Atlanta Plan” public meetings in Buckhead a few years ago Buckhead residents made it very clear they would not accept a streetcar system on Peachtree Road, reducing the vehicle traffic lanes by one in each direction. Some who attended the meetings even suggested blockading Peachtree to prevent it.

So, McMillan and Soldat, who likely were not involved with any of those earlier public input meetings, may get an earful of very strong objections—a community engagement they may not be expecting. In Buckhead, the streetcar has been referred to by some as “the trolley folly”.

Sally Flocks

Sally Flocks

On the other hand, PEDS President and CEO Sally Flocks is likely to get a warm reception, as she has in the past, at the BCN meeting. PEDS is an organization dedicated to creating safe, enjoyable streets and walkable communities.

This is a particularly timely presentation with the passage of the recent bond referendum which will likely make some funds available for sidewalk construction and maintenance. Building new sidewalks and repairing existing ones to reduce the hazard of injuries from falling is important to residents of Buckhead and to the members of the BCN.

The meeting agenda also calls for a discussion about the budget for updating the website and online communication project for BCN.

The BCN meetings are always open to the public and start promptly at 6:45 p.m. and end at 8:45 p.m.

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