Published on September 12th, 2015 |3
50+ Buckhead residents vet Peachtree Rd. bike lanes sans GDOT speaker
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.
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.
“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.
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 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.
“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.