To the editor:

We spoke at the E. Rivers meeting and talked about the Connect Atlanta Plan. As usual your comments in the Reporter are right on target. There have been so many studies, so many consultants, so many meetings – I think that the life of a consultant in this City must be nice.

You are right in wondering if the consultants were paying any attention to the comments of the participants. I also attended a similar meeting at Georgia Pacific the week before & had the same feeling. There were a lot of people there, making great comments but no one was really paying attention. They go through this process and then come up with the plan that they intended from the start, but they can say that they had a lot of public meetings and everyone had their chance to voice their opinions, but of course, no one was listening.

At the first meeting I attended, people were assigned to tables for the discussion and a participant was taking notes that were presented to the entire group at the end of the meeting. At the E. Rivers meeting, very few people even participated in the break out sessions. It seems that most people were standing in the middle of the room complaining about traffic problems, but there was no way of recording their ideas or their concerns.

I was disappointed at both of the Connect Atlanta meetings that I attended that there was almost no mention of developing a true mass transit system. The talk was about bus routes and sidewalks, etc., but nothing that will really deal with the number of cars on our roads, the number of cars cutting through the neighborhoods, the inadequate road system, the fact that people in Buckhead even if they live or work on Peachtree have to get in their cars to go almost anywhere.

I’m concerned about this issue because as Buckhead grows and thrives, more and more people are working there. Which is great. What is not great is that there is no road system to handle the number of people who want to work there. They’ve talked and planned for years, but never gone beyond that point. I’ve watched that amount of traffic cutting through neighborhood streets increase each year.

Maybe it’s a Georgia Thing or an Atlanta Thing – if we talk about a problem, if we plan solutions, we don’t have to fix it.

At the E. Rivers meeting, I sat in with one group and the leader was not at all interested in talking about mass transit. I then went to another consultant who was talking with Sally Silver and we did talk about MASS TRANSIT. This means trains and subways etc.

There needs to be a system of trains from nearby cities like Macon, Chattanooga, Rome, Calhoun, Charlotte, Athens, etc., that bring commuters and visitors to Atlanta’s Grand Central Station – a very important multi-modal station in what would become the heart of downtown. This would make downtown Atlanta the center of the Atlanta region. It would mean that downtown Atlanta would be the center for good jobs and great places to live. For commuter or downtown residents who work in Buckhead, there needs to be a real subway that goes the entire length of Peachtree from downtown to Brookhaven. Plans need to be made for the future too when subways will be needed in other directions.

The advantage of a subway is simple – it won’t get stuck in traffic. The new trolley that’s being proposed is more of a tourist attraction rather than a real mode of rapid transportation. Surface traffic is too unpredictable so people in a hurry will still use their cars, but they would use a subway because it would be fast & reliable.

Other major cities are working on mass transit systems, if Atlanta and Georgia neglects this major part of its infrastructure, future growth will go else where and Atlanta will become a nice sleepy southern town.

You also wrote about the meetings for the Improving Piedmont project. I live in Tuxedo Park and represented the Tuxedo Park Civic Association at the meetings along with Gordon Certain of North Buckhead Civic Association and Jim King of Chastain Park Civic Association. We attended all the meetings relating to the intersection of Piedmont/Roswell/Habersham/Blackland/Powers Ferry/Old Ivy. You wrote that the planners did “listen and responded to public reaction.” The final plan showed none of the elements that had been proposed and so vehemently objected to by the adjacent neighborhoods. (North Buckhead, Chastain Park and Tuxedo Park)

There is more to that final proposal by the planners and Buckhead CID.

The final plan shows the additional lane that is being added to that short section of Roswell between Habersham and Piedmont. That is being done by the developer of the property at that corner and was one of the conditions of the approval of that project. One of the other improvements is the lengthening of the left turn lane from Piedmont to Habersham. Also they talked about working on the timing of the lights.

What you did not mention is that at this time, there are two large parcels that have recently changed hands and until the developers decide what they intend to do with those two key parcels, no other changes could be recommended.

The parcels are the Tuxedo Festival Shopping Center and also the traffic island and some of the commercial property across the street from the traffic island. It would be impossible to make traffic changes before the plans for the redevelopment of those properties were presented. I don’t know when this will happen. However, when the developers determine how they will use their newly acquired properties, then the issue of traffic at this crazy intersection will come up again. So more changes will be coming, just not at this point in time.

Keep up the great work. The Reporter is a great newspaper.

Sally Morgens