Transportation BCN 9-10-15

Published on September 12th, 2015 |

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50+ Buckhead residents vet Peachtree Rd. bike lanes sans GDOT speaker

(Editor’s Note: BuckheadView’s editor is on Cape Cod this weekend for vacation and was unable to attend the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods meeting. BuckheadView thanks BCN secretary Gordon Certain for providing an audio tape of the meeting, and Fred Wooten for the photo from the meeting.)

The announced Georgia Department of Transportation speaker for the Buckhead Council of Neighborhood’s meeting Sept. 10–who was to explain the agency’s plans for changing Peachtree Road traffic lane configurations and adding bike lanes in south Buckhead—drew a full house of 50 residents who were disappointed when he failed to show.

This slide from Heath's presentation shows the change in the lane structure on Peachtree from north of Peachtree Battle to south of Peachtree Battle.

This slide from Heath’s presentation shows the change in the lane structure on Peachtree from north of Peachtree Battle to south of Peachtree Battle.

There seems to be some confusion as to when GDOT District 7 engineer Andrew Heath, who is knowledgeable on the Peachtree Road changes, was asked to address the organization’s September meeting. However, BCN president Tom Tidwell knew on Wednesday (the day before the meeting) that he would not be able to be at the Thursday night meeting. But no one else—including the room full of resident guests—really knew until the time of the meeting at 6:45 p.m. at Peachtree Presbyterian Church because that word was never passed on to neighborhood representatives or the media.

(BuckheadView had announced the agenda for the Sept. 10 meeting–including the GDOT speaker on the Peachtree Road changes–on Sept. 7, based on an email it received Sept. 5 from the BCN. To read that story, click here.)

According to a report from BCN secretary Gordon Certain, most of the full room of people attending the meeting were against the reduction in traffic lanes and installation of bike lanes on the portion of Peachtree Road south of Peachtree Battle Avenue in south Buckhead.

This graphic shows the GDOT preferred Peachtree Battle Hybrid Alternative for Peachtree Road.

This graphic shows the GDOT preferred Peachtree Battle Hybrid Alternative for Peachtree Road.

“We did have an open comment period for attendees to opine on the lane changes and a show of hands for/against the bike lanes,” Certain told BuckheadView. He added roughly 90 percent were against the plan.

Certain told BuckheadView that BCN will try to line up the speaker for the organization’s October meeting.

The plan calls for re-striping Peachtree Road through Buckhead—from Maple Drive on the north to Deering Road on the south—to include a center dedicated left-turn lane and bike lanes on Peachtree from Peachtree Battle Avenue to Deering Road.

BCN secretary Gordon Certain

BCN secretary Gordon Certain

The current announced GDOT plan for Peachtree Road includes:
• Maple Drive to Shadowlawn Avenue would have seven traffic lanes with three travel lanes in each direction, one turn lane and two bike lanes.
• Shadowlawn Avenue south to Peachtree Battle would have six traffic lanes with three southbound lanes, two northbound lanes and one center left-turn lane. There would be no bike lanes on this section
• Peachtree Battle south to Deering Road would have five traffic lanes with two travel lanes in each direction, one center left-turn lane and two bike lanes on either side of the road.

The above graphic shows the GDOT preferred option for the area of Peachtree Road from Peachtree Battle Avenue north to Shadowlawn.

The above graphic shows the GDOT preferred option for the area of Peachtree Road from Peachtree Battle Avenue north to Shadowlawn Avenue. The blue line shows where the configuration changes to include bike lanes.

The majority of residents on hand for the BCN meeting were opposed to removing travel lanes to accommodate bike lanes, according to Certain and comments heard on an audio tape from the meeting that Certain emailed to BuckheadView.

Residents were concerned that less thru lanes for vehicles on Peachtree would mean more cars diverting into neighborhoods. “Peachtree Road is over capacity and it should be for cars and nothing else,” one meeting attendee said.

Another resident suggested maybe it was time for Atlanta to stop spending money to accommodate more cars and start charging a congestion fee similar to the one that motorists pay in London to drive in the center of the United Kingdom capital.

Dist. 8 Atlanta City Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean addresses those attending the Sept.10 BCN meeting.

Dist. 8 Atlanta City Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean addresses those attending the Sept.10 BCN meeting.

“I’m a cyclist and would never ride my bike on Peachtree Road,” one woman was heard to say. “The speed of traffic and density makes it unsafe even with bike lanes.”

Dist. 54 House Rep. Beth Beskin, reportedly said the majority of residents she had spoken to were against the bike lanes. She also said residents need to start contacting the city about the proposed extension of the Atlanta Streetcar system from Lenox Square to Fort McPherson.

Northside Dr. work to last through 2017

Although there was no one from GDOT to discuss the Peachtree Road plans, GDOT engineer Ira Witherspoon was on hand at the meeting to brief the BCN on work underway to install new sewer and water lines as well as upgrading intersections, sidewalks, curbs and the resurfacing of Northside Drive through Buckhead

The bottom line on the Northside Drive project is that the work will not be completed until the end of 2017.

While 42 percent of the work is complete on Northside, there is still much to do. There will be various road closures, narrowing of lanes and detours in place, so plan for extra travel time or choose an alternate route.

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    3 Responses to 50+ Buckhead residents vet Peachtree Rd. bike lanes sans GDOT speaker

    1. Jim Durrett says:

      This article implies that a GDOT employee was scheduled to appear to present and explain the proposed restriping of Peachtree. FALSE. He was called the day before the meeting and asked if he could attend. He explained when he was called that he had a conflict, could not be there the next night, and would be glad to come to a subsequent meeting. Why people would have expected him to be there (and then be disappointed) is apparently due to miscommunication from BCN to its member neighborhoods. The public information open house where the history, purpose and plans for this project will be fully explained, will be held the week of October 26. Location and exact date and time being worked out now.

      • John Schaffner says:

        There seems to be some confusion as to exactly when Mr. Heath was contacted about appearing at the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods meeting, but no confusion as to when he said he could not appear. GDOT’s Mr. Heath has not contacted BuckheadView directly to clarify anything about this story, but apparently has relied on Jim Durrett, executive director of the Buckhead Community Improvement District to clarify the situation for him. BuckheadView does know that Mr. Heath said he could not attend the meeting and that the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods president did not get that word out to the member neighborhoods or to the media.

    2. Betsy Scattergood says:

      In addition to comments noted in this article, there were several attendees who voiced the following suggestions/concerns:
      (1) the Peachtree Transformation plan is primarily a restriping project to address traffic flow and safety – it would also be helpful to hear about ways to get folks out of their cars. Two organizations that might offer some ideas were suggested –
      —– the new MARTAarmy.com – a grassroots group looking to find ways to encourage ridership of public transit and to expand transit
      —– PEDS is looking for ways to enhance pedestrian experience and safety
      (2) Although it’s counter intuitive, the “road diet” approach of reducing lanes/adding bike lanes has been shown to help the flow of traffic. This is now in place on Ponce de Leon Rd – it might be helpful to take a look at how that is working

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