Published on August 26th, 2015 |11
GDOT’s preferred redo plan for Peachtree Road finally unveiled
A center turn lane is part of GDOT’s plan for the entire track from Maple Drive on the north to Deering Road on the south, but there would be three southbound thru traffic lanes and two northbound from Maple Drive to Peachtree Battle.
Below Peachtree Battle, the lane structure would change to two thru lanes both northbound and southbound, a center left-turn lane for both directions and bike lanes on both sides of the road.
Andrew Heath, state traffic engineer for GDOT, told members of the Buckhead Community Improvement District Aug. 25, “Peachtree changes character at Peachtree Battle.”
Actually, Heath said GDOT recommendation only goes from Deering Road to Pharr Road on the north, but the implication was that GDOT really wants the “Peachtree Battle Hybrid Alternative” to continue on north to Maple Drive.
GDOT’s new plan will be presented for public comment in late October, Heath said, after it is checked by the transportation authority’s survey and design people have completed their work and it is put into a formal concept report. And, a place to hold the meeting has to be identified.
An earlier plan—called a “road diet” plan—was panned by many Buckhead residents during public input meetings late last year. “A lot of the concern was about taking away two traffic lanes” in that plan, he added.
So, GDOT planners went back to the drawing boards for many months and took a new look at ways to restripe the lanes on Peachtree through Buckhead. They studied a number of alternative models with different lane configurations.
Asked by BCID chairman David Allman when construction work could actually begin on the project, Heath said it depends on the outcome of the
public meetings. He said essentially it is a much needed repaving and restriping project. ‘
If the public is receptive to GDOT’s preferred alternative, Heath said construction “hopefully could begin next year and could go very fast.” After all, he added, the work would be done to the present roadbed, with no changes to the 60-foot road width, curb to curb.
The design, Heath said, would allow church parking along Peachtree to continue on Sunday mornings, which makes Dist. 7 Atlanta City Councilman Howard Shook happy. Shook also is a member of the BCID board.
Heath also said the preferred alternative plan, called the Peachtree Battle Hybrid, “far outpaced the other alternatives on pushing traffic through.”
Shook complimented Heath and is staff for working hard with members of Atlanta City Council on these plans and “for striking a good balance” with the GDOT’s preferred alternative.
Heath said one of the alternatives studied was a “No Build” alternative, but they discovered it had no benefits. GDOT also studied spot improvements along the route but realized they could run into major right-of-way problems.
They considered a “West Wesley Alternative” which had three southbound lanes, and two northbound to West Wesley and then two southbound and three northbound lanes between Peachtree Battle Avenue and West Wesley.
But, Heath told the BCID board GDOT settled on the six traffic lane model from Pharr Road to Peachtree Battle with no bike lanes and five traffic lanes with two bike lanes from Peachtree Battle south to Deering Road.
In response to a question from a CID board member, Heath said GDOT has not done any origin/destination studies related to cyclists. He also admitted the agency does not have great data on the number of cyclists and pedestrians in the area.
Heath pointed out that with the development of the PATH400 multi-use trail—which will connect the Perimeter area to the Atlanta BeltLine and points south, bicyclists will have a north/south bike route.
CID board member John Barton asked Heath if MARTA data on usage was studied in relation to the various models, and was told by Heath it was not. Future traffic increases were estimated from past historic percentage rates of increase.
Heath said the reasons for doing this now is that Peachtree Road is due for repaving and restriping, that safety needs have been identified, that GDOT’s Dist. 7 staff has identified major problems with turning left on Peachtree and that there is a low utilization of the far left lanes north and southbound by motorists (a 15 percent usage rate).
He pointed out that there have been 801 accidents in this area of Peachtree Road in the past five years with the Peachtree Road average being above that of the state. Some of those accidents also included cyclists.
As for Phase 3 of the Peachtree Road Transformation Plan, BCID Executive Director Jim Durrett and Transportation Director Brian McHugh both assured board members the GDOT preferred alternative for south of Shadowlawn Avenue would not change adopted plans for the one-block Phase 3 plan from Shadowlawn north to Maple Drive.
Heath told the CID board, “Once you get north of Shadowlawn, the road is much wider than 60 feet.”
McHugh told the board that Phase 3 will continue to have a seven-lane cross section, with three thru travel lanes in each direction, a center dedicated left-turn lane and bike lanes. He said that configuration is needed to make the transition from the one-block area north of Maple Drive to Piedmont Road and beyond Piedmont to the wider Peachtree Road configuration through the central business area all the way up to Roxboro/Peachtree-Dunwoody roads.