Transportation Habersham 2

Published on January 7th, 2016 |

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Delays still plague Buckhead road work; Piedmont at Habersham worst

Delays and backups remain the story on many Buckhead road projects as 2016 begins a year of hoped-for major progress. One in particular, the left turn lane project at Piedmont and Habersham roads, has literally caused backups, delays and heated motorists in recent weeks.

BCID Executive Director Jim Durrett standing at the site of the road construction work at Piedmont & Habersham roads.

BCID Executive Director Jim Durrett standing at the site of the road construction work at Piedmont & Habersham roads.

Buckhead Community Improvement District (BCID) Director of Transportation & Development Brian McHugh told the board Jan. 6, “We lost a lane because of construction, and traffic was backing up badly,” causing some exasperated drivers to turn around in the middle of the road.

This project, which has been on the books for about a decade, was supposed to have been completed before school started last year and then, after delays, before holiday traffic.

bcidlogoMcHugh explained that the contractors did a fair amount of work with a limited schedule during the holidays, “but we don’t have a schedule from GDOT (Georgia Department of Transportation) for completion.”

Several board members commented on the inconvenience of the traffic tie-ups caused by the project, with John Barton asking if there isn’t some indication as to when “this terrible situation” can get back to normal.

“They have blown through their schedule so it is like they don’t have a schedule anymore,” McHugh said.

BCID Director of Transportation & Development Brian McHugh, far right, reports on the road project at Piedmont and Habersham roads during the Jan. 6 board meeting.

BCID Director of Transportation & Development Brian McHugh, far right, reports on the road project at Piedmont and Habersham roads during the Jan. 6 board meeting.

BCID Executive Director Jim Durrett told the board, “GDOT is very aware of the CID’s displeasure with the delays.”

Durrett reported on the CID’s and GDOT’s work on Phase 4 of the Peachtree Road Transformation Project, from Shadowlawn Avenue to Deering Road, telling the board GDOT is still in the environmental study process for the section south of Pharr Road to Deering and still writing comments following the public information meeting in October.

“GDOT has a staff meeting scheduled this week to map out the schedule for the entire project,” Durrett said. “They believe they could have everything ready to put the project out for bid by summer.” He said once the contractor is chosen the paving and restriping work should go rather quickly.

As for the CID’s portion of the project, from Shadowlawn Avenue to Pharr Road, Durrett said work has begun on working out the restriping plan to include the two-way center left-turn lane and staff has begun working with stakeholders.

Buckhead CID board vice chairman John Lundeen, left, and Executive Director Jim Durrett listen to discussions during the Jan. 6 board meeting

Buckhead CID board vice chairman John Lundeen, left, and Executive Director Jim Durrett listen to discussions during the Jan. 6 board meeting

Durrett said the goal is to have the roadwork part of that project done in conjunction with the work on GDOT’s segment of the corridor so that it appears like one seamless project.

BCID board vice chairman John Lundeen, who controls affected property on Peachtree Road, asked for an update on the one-block Phase 3 of the Peachtree Road project.

McHugh reported that the right-of-way review is keyed up and ready to go, but the CID is working with and waiting on a decision from GDOT for approval of the higher and originally planned right-of-way costs.

Lundeen commented, “This would not have been a problem if it had been done two years ago” during the recession and before the property values increased.

The discussion turned to the widening of Piedmont Road from Peachtree to the Lenox Loop.

McHugh reported that a recent meeting with GDOT went well. The present issue being studied is how much traffic there is in that area and the volume of traffic making left turns. He said it is important for the understanding of the que lengths of the left turn lanes. He said the concept report is about four weeks out.

Durrett explained that the Atlanta Regional Commission has provisionally awarded the Buckhead CID two federal transportation grants that are included in the draft Transportation Improvements Program, currently in the public comment period.

The first recommendation, for $640,000, is for the Buckhead CID to conduct the engineering study to widen Piedmont Road between Lenox Road and Peachtree Road. The second, for $200,000, is for a scoping study to determine what improvements can and should be made to Lenox Road between East Paces Ferry and Piedmont Road.

The goal is to improve accessibility and relieve traffic congestion. Buckhead CID is expecting a final determination of the grants by March.

Addressing the project to improve traffic flow and safety at the intersection of Phipps Boulevard, Wieuca and Peachtree roads, Durrett again announced that City Councilman Howard Sook is putting $1M into the pot to construct a roundabout there to alleviate the present problems. Durrett asked for and got approval from the board for the CID to issue a request for proposal for the roundabout project.

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