Atlanta Assistant Director of Transportation and Planning Joshuah Mello shows some of the proposed changes coming to Peachtree Road in the next few years.

There will be big changes along Peachtree Road in the next two years as four different agencies work to make improvements that they hope will make the road safer.

Residents and business owners got a glimpse of what’s in store during a Dec. 10 public information meeting hosted by the Peachtree Road Task Force. The task force ia made up of representatives from the Buckhead Community Improvement District, the city of Atlanta, the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Midtown Alliance. All of these agencies will have a hand in paying for and building the projects that are on the horizon.

Bert and Dawn Quist, owners of Divers@Sea in Buckhead, attended the information meeting.

“We are hopefully optimistic that it will improve the traffic,” Dawn said.

The improvements will begin just south of I-85 and will run north along Peachtree Road to Maple Drive in Buckhead. There will be bike lanes, dedicated left turn lanes and beautification projects.

The project phases presented at the meeting were labeled and categorized by the city of Atlanta. The Buckhead CID has its own system to categorize the Peachtree Road improvements within its boundaries.

The four projects concepts are:

–          Peachtree Road Phase 4, which the Buckhead CID calls Phase 3, is an extension of the Buckhead CID’s Peachtree Road streetscape project. The project is from Maple Drive to Shadowlawn Avenue. Construction is expected to begin summer of 2015, and the total cost estimated at $4.6M.

–          The Gateway Bridge Project overseen by the Midtown Alliance at the southern end of Peachtree Road in Buckhead. The $2.9 million project to refurbish the bridge where Peachtree crosses I-85 will include decorative elements like sidewalks and arches. It’s expected to begin in fall of 2014.

–          A Peachtree Road safety improvement project overseen by the Georgia Department of Transportation. The $1 million project is expected to begin in the spring or summer of 2015 and extends from Sheridan Dr. to I-85.

–          Peachtree Road Phase 1, which the Buckhead CID has called Phase 4, is expected to begin in the spring of 2014. The total cost is unknown. It extends from Shadowlawn Avenue to Sheridan Drive.

Buckhead CID Executive Director Jim Durrett said the section from Shadowlawn Avenue south to the Peach Shopping Center will be constructed ahead of the section from Maple Drive to Shadowlawn in order to create an “appropriate transition” among the segments.

“Maple Drive to Shadowlawn Avenue is the third phase of the original project and has always been on the books,” Durrett said.  “Its ultimate design will now depend on what we will do south of there in order to assure an appropriate transition to existing segments.  We believe that what we decide to do in what we are calling Phase 4 we will be able to do without taking significant right-of-way and without using federal funds, just CID dollars, and it will therefore be able to be accomplished quicker.”

Joshuah Mello, Assistant Director of Transportation and Planning with the city of Atlanta, said the roads will be restriped to create a two-way left-turn lane, effectively dedicating the third lane to turning traffic.

The plans foreshadow the implementation of plans created by the Brookwood Alliance, a group of south Buckhead neighborhoods. In addition to the dedicated left turn lanes, those plans also call for more vertical development along the southern end of Peachtree.

Mello said while the capacity of the road will decrease slightly, it will be safer in the long run. “It’s estimated to decrease crashes by 37 percent,” Mello said.

He said it will also allow the city to install more traffic signals. “Under current guidelines, you can’t have a [turn] signal unless you have a lane,” Mello said.

The Peachtree Road task force provided some other statistics supporting the need for the improvement projects along the notorious Buckhead street.

• Between 2010 and 2012, rear-end crashes increased from 78 to 129 on Peachtree Road;

• Side-swipe crashes increased from 64 to 113;

• Peachtree Road crash rates are above the statewide averages in all severity categories.