By John Schaffner
Connect Atlanta city planners and consultants presented to a sparse group of interested residents three approaches to improve traffic flow at the intersection of Piedmont and Roswell roads for both commuters and local residents.
A city effort to prepare a comprehensive transportation plan for Atlanta through 2030, Connect Atlanta has been studying traffic patterns since last November.
The first option shows a break in Piedmont Road from Habersham Road to Roswell. Instead, a loop road would pass from Piedmont, behind the shopping centers east of Roswell and north of Piedmont, cross Old Ivy and loop back to Roswell Road to a connection at Powers Ferry Road. Roswell Road traffic would connect with Piedmont by turning first onto Habersham or onto the loop.
This plan offers multiple left-turn options.
The second option temporarily splits Roswell Road into one-way north and south routes, connecting to two-way Roswell Road north of Powers Ferry Road and at Habersham to the south. The northbound loop would pass behind the shopping centers and connect to Piedmont, Old Ivy and Powers Ferry. Southbound traffic would remain on the current Roswell Road until Blackland Road, where it would detour left onto what is now Piedmont, right on Habersham, picking Roswell back up at Habersham.
Option two eliminates the section of Roswell Road between Habersham and Blackland.
The third option presents a grid system with one-way routes running north and south, with major connections to Piedmont, Old Ivy and Powers Ferry. Southbound traffic follows the current Roswell Road with one exception where it would veer west through what is now a shopping center north of Powers Ferry Road.
That plan breaks up into seven intersections and eliminates the section of Piedmont between Habersham and Roswell.
All three proposed options met with some initial enthusiasm from representatives of the North Buckhead Civic Association (NBCA) who attended a workshop to discuss it with the Connect Atlanta study group on Feb. 14.
“Our initial reaction is that this approach is worth looking at to see if it benefits both residents of our area and land owners along Piedmont and Roswell Roads,” said Gordon Certain, president of the North Buckhead Civic Association. “We need to be careful that we have a plan that can evolve workably at each stage of implementation.”
Connect Atlanta city planners and their consultants completed on Feb. 14 a week of day-long workshops at the Georgia Pacific building in downtown Atlanta to allow residents opportunities to offer suggestions on broad stroke citywide ways to improve Atlanta’s transportation system or just discuss fixes for single roads or intersections.
Certain and his neighbors met with the study team primarily to discuss the intersection where Piedmont and Roswell Roads converge.
“Our association’s Traffic Committee chair Robert Sarkissian and I were excited about the ideas presented which might fix the traffic bottlenecks on Piedmont and Roswell Roads at Habersham Road,” Certain said. “We were pleased that the proposed configurations didn’t seem to be designed to ease traffic flow for commuters from other counties on their way to and from the Buckhead business district while limiting neighborhood’s traffic mobility. Habersham is currently the only reasonable way to enter and exit the southwest part of our neighborhood.”
“We are interested in the redevelopment of the area along Roswell and Piedmont from Powers Ferry south to Habersham,” he said. “With the right kind of cooperative thinking, we might have new pocket parks with accessible redevelopment such as retail and restaurants.
“The approach we saw also introduces a traffic grid where none exists today, a big plus,” Certain stated in reference to option three.
He said his association board and residents need to see details for each plan. Specifically, they need “to see the alignments along the western edge of our neighborhood so we can understand possible impacts – good and bad.”
The diagrams shown to the representatives from North Buckhead were not firm plans but rather manifestations of a traffic calming concept being explored by Connect Atlanta.
The North Buckhead neighborhood last year had vehemently opposed a proposal for changes at the Piedmont/Roswell Roads intersection brought forward as part of the earlier Piedmont Corridor study funded by the Buckhead Area Transportation Management Association (BATMA).
That proposal called for closing Piedmont Road between Habersham and Roswell Roads and routing Piedmont Road traffic to Roswell at its intersection with Habersham. NBCA members claimed that proposal would isolate residents by disallowing access from the neighborhood to the main commercial area of Buckhead.
The three Connect Atlanta options also eliminate the direct Piedmont connection to Roswell. However, by employing a connector road options and/or a grid system to provide passage to and from all important cross access roads, the neighbors seem pleased with neighborhood access.
The successful implementation of any of the three options would likely rely on future redevelopment of the present commercial properties surrounding the Piedmont/Roswell intersection.
At the wrap-up session for the northern section of the study on Feb. 14, transportation planner Paul Moore said much of the details for the Piedmont/Roswell Road options had been worked out and drawn following the meeting earlier in the day with the representatives of the North Buckhead neighborhood.
Moore also described possible changes at other intersections that could help reduce traffic congestion.
Piedmont at Peachtree Road
He said most of what could be done at the Piedmont and Peachtree intersection would involve improving routes motorists presently use to cut through the shopping centers on the northwest to provide another route for traffic heading north on Piedmont Road.
For traffic seeking to go south on Piedmont off northbound Peachtree Road, an access street might be included as part of future redevelopment that would cut diagonally from Peachtree Road to Piedmont on the south side of Peachtree.
Piedmont at Lindbergh Drive
The final major plan for Buckhead discussed at the evening session involved a sizeable change at the intersection of Piedmont Road and Lindbergh Drive. Two-way roads would replace both present north and south one-way Lindbergh Drive roads, flanking a possible major green space between them. Potentially a south part of the new road would be widened and become a parkway.
As the Connect Atlanta study team conducts similar week-long public workshops for other areas of the city, planners will sift through the input they receive relating to the north side of Atlanta. They plan to refine the proposed options and revisit the options with the public in another community meeting in the next few months.