There are several apartment projects being developed in Buckhead, but some residents are concerned that the new housing units will put thousands of additional cars on the road each day.
The Buckhead Community Improvement District plans to study the effect of the apartments on local traffic patterns.
“We’re aware of the situation,” Executive Director Jim Durrett said. “We think it’s a really good question to be asking.”
Residents worry that the new developments aren’t a part of the city’s traffic planning for north Atlanta.
North Buckhead Civic Association President Gordon Certain, who has an engineering background, released a list of estimates of what he believes the 2,500 units under development will do to his neighborhood.
“If those all get built that’s going to add another 25 percent to Lenox Road traffic volume,” Certain told the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods at a recent meeting.
Among Certain’s conclusions:
– If all eight apartment developments slated for Buckhead are actually built, it will increase Buckhead’s housing units by 50 percent.
– The apartment units would generate an additional 15,600 car trips along north Buckhead roads.
– The problem will be compounded by the removal of the Ga. 400 tolls in November and the opening of new Ga. 400 ramps at I-85 North.
Certain said he is in favor of the new ramps, but believes they will increase traffic on the Buckhead Loop.
He also said that he’s not a traffic engineer, and his estimates are only educated guesses based on studies of other apartment projects. He said the issue needs more consideration than it has received.
Durrett said he has asked the CID’s consultant, Parsons Brinckerhoff, to take a look at the impact of the new apartments.
“We have already been talking with them about modeling the likely impacts of not only apartment developments or any developments that appear to be likely in the next year or so, using the baseline of what we have out there today,” Durrett said. “That will give us some insight.”
District 7 Atlanta City Councilman Howard Shook, who represents Buckhead, said Certain’s estimates and concerns ignore what the state, city and CID already are doing to address traffic.
“There are improvements that have been made in the last couple of years and are being made now,” Shook said. “In fact, right now Buckhead is probably being infused with transportation dollars at a rate it’s never seen before.”
In addition to the new Ga. 400 ramps, Shook also pointed to the work on the Ga. 400/MARTA pedestrian bridge, and the completion of the second phase of improvements to Peachtree Road. That project added turn lanes and pedestrian-friendly features, like new sidewalks.
“That’s tens of millions of dollars that have been invested,” Shook said. “It certainly can’t be said that nothing’s being done. We’re the beneficiaries of a record peak in investment, there are plans to continue engineering improvements further along Peachtree Road, and there are plans to re-engineer Piedmont Road. That will be a huge help in Buckhead.”
Shook said most of the traffic nationwide is generated by single-family homes, and that many of the apartment residents will be professionals who don’t have children. He said Buckhead’s traffic woes are a part of life there and have been for decades.
There’s not much government can do to change it, he said.
“There are some realities here that can’t be evaded. Property owners have the right to develop according to the zoning classification of the property that they own,” Shook said. “You cannot downzone people’s property because you find the conditions on the road occasionally inconvenient. You just can’t do that.”