Published on October 14th, 2015 |3
Buckhead residents urged to take Peachtree Rd. streetcar survey
Most of the meeting was devoted to the Georgia Department of Transportation’s proposal for transforming Peachtree Road traffic lanes from Pharr Road to Deering Road, which
includes adding dedicated two-way left-turn lanes the entire length of the corridor and bike lanes south of Peachtree Battle Avenue. (For BuckheadView’s earlier story on the plan, click here.)
Residents at the BCN meeting welcomed the turn lanes, but the conversation kept returning to the bike lanes. A call for a show of hands from residents in attendance who did not want bike lanes on Peachtree Road caused the majority in the room to raise their hands.
District 8 City Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean said she believed GDOT needed to go back to the drawing board and find another solution, while At-Large Councilmember Mary Norwood said she believes there needs to be more focus on wider pedestrian sidewalks than bike lanes.
GDOT state traffic engineer Andrew Heath encouraged the residents to attend a Thursday, Oct. 29, town hall meeting, from 5-7 p.m. at the Shepherd Center, 2020 Peachtree Road, and bring their concerns about the bike lanes.
BCN Secretary Gordon Certain, who also is president of the North Buckhead Civic Association and designed the streetcar survey, told PeachtreeView, “I want to stop the plan to build the streetcar on Peachtree.” But he also wants to gather as many opinions from Buckhead residents as possible.
“Wouldn’t streetcars be a charming addition to our future?” Certain asked in an editorial in the October edition of the NBCA’s monthly newsletter.
“Actually, no,” he stated. Certain expounded on the editorial at the BCN meeting and tied it to adding bike lanes to part of Peachtree Road.
As he did in the editorial in the North Buckhead Newsletter, Certain argued that the streetcar plan, if implemented, will be very bad for traffic flow on Peachtree Road. “Changes to Peachtree Road need to add transportation capacity and be affordable. The current Peachtree Streetcar plan does neither,” he said.
Certain did not release any interim survey results received to date, “because that might bias subsequent responses to the survey. In other words, if they see the interim results, all of the streetcar zealots in the whole city might take our survey to prove what a widely-supported concept it is, much like the bike lobby does at road hearings,” he explained.
The survey asks for the participant’s address so responses can be sorted geographically if necessary. The survey is open to the public so a broader population will be able to express their views, Certain told BuckheadView. To take the survey go online to www.nbca.org/streetcar.
Certain said he told the BCN group, “We shouldn’t allow a second transit system to operate outside the 22-mile BeltLine loop. If the city and MARTA aren’t responsive enough
to address our transit needs without resorting to two transit empires, we should seek the help of the Legislature to direct them in a less duplicative direction.”
Certain and his wife rode the streetcar in downtown Atlanta prior to the BCN meeting and reported to BuckheadView, “We survived. No problems at all. The streetcar was 1/3 to 1/2 full. Most of the riders seemed to be local. We saw very few tourists, maybe three or four.” He also said it smelled.
“The thing that struck us was the lack of traffic downtown,” Certain told BuckheadView. “Peachtree Street at Ellis Street traffic at 2 p.m. was about as heavy as Peachtree Road at Lenox Road would be at 2 a.m.”
Certain reported, “The Streetcar ride moved faster at times than I expected and was very smooth.” He added, “A Peachtree Road bus ride would be smooth, too, if someone spent $100 million leveling out the pavement.”
Below is Certain’s opinion piece that appeared in the North Buckhead neighborhood newsletter:
“The Atlanta Beltline is quietly making long-range plans for streetcars on Buckhead’s Peachtree Road to the Buckhead MARTA station and perhaps farther. Wouldn’t streetcars be a charming addition to our future? Actually, no.
Think about how crowded Peachtree Road is now, especially on North Buckhead’s southern border between Piedmont Road and Peachtree Dunwoody Road. Now, think about throttling the
speed on a lane in each direction, and adding mid-block stops for passenger loading and unloading.
Think about all the new development that’s going on near Peachtree in Atlanta and western DeKalb. Does anyone really think North Buckhead drivers will tolerate frequently-stopping streetcars clogging two of Peachtree Road’s traffic lanes as a $375 million component of a $3.6 billion citywide streetcar vision? (Unsure this could really be the plan? See www.nbca.org/sc.)
West and south of North Buckhead it might get even worse. GDOT has proposals to take away lanes to provide bike and left turn lanes on Peachtree Road. Later, with the streetcar plan, up to half the surviving traffic lanes would be for streetcar use.
Buckhead needs increased transportation capacity, not less. Are there more workable streetcar options that won’t impede traffic?
1. Buying extra right-of-way to add Peachtree Road Streetcar lanes would be extremely costly — just think about how many expensive properties would be impacted.
2. Building a costly elevated streetcar platform above the Peachtree Road median would work if we could figure out how to get passengers to/from it. But, would it pass the community’s aesthetic tests?
3. If we are absolutely intent on providing regularly scheduled Peachtree Road transit, we might consider a streetcar tunnel. At least that would be an approach that wouldn’t impede traffic flow, wouldn’t be ugly, and could keep schedules and actually attract a ridership.
I’ve been 200 feet below North Buckhead; in fact, I’ve walked directly under Nancy Creek. That was back when the City excavated its 8-mile long Nancy Creek Sewer Tunnel using tunnel boring machines. There’s solid rock under Buckhead that the City has already shown can be tunneled.
Though many other great cities are pleased with their subways, I’m not arguing that a subway/streetcar is the way to go. I am arguing that we shouldn’t accept a streetcar plan which is sure to tie up Peachtree Road traffic.
But there are larger issues than figuring out which option the city should pursue for Buckhead’s proposed component of a new streetcar system.
We already have MARTA, which takes a healthy bite out of tax revenues. We already have MARTA bus routes operating on Peachtree Road.
Why on earth should our city need a competing taxpayer-financed transit system? Is this senseless overreach? If MARTA doesn’t do what we need, why not fix MARTA, not duplicate it?
The Beltline (maybe with city support) is barking up the wrong tree with this streetcar plan.”
–Gordon Certain, NBCA President
“Help us get this message to Atlanta’s leaders,” Certain urged Buckhead residents. “Tell them what you think, pro or con, by using our petition at www.nbca.org/streetcar.” The petition will close for input after Nov. 1.