Now that the northern end of Peachtree Road has a new look, planners are turning their attention to the south.
The Buckhead Community Improvement District, one of the groups behind the project, calls it the “Peachtree Transformation.” The plan is to add granite curbing, medians, trees, bike lanes, wide sidewalks, turn lanes and to bury utility lines in order to make Peachtree a more attractive and safer place to walk or bike.
“Bicycles and beautification are a byproduct. It will be a safe and more reliable corridor first,” Buckhead CID Executive Director Jim Durrett said.
The Buckhead CID has hired planners Kimley-Horn and Associates for $460,000 to take a new look at the plans for work along a stretch of Peachtree a little more than a mile long, Durrett said.
“We’re exploring what makes sense given the constraints in the corridor and the development that is taking place now and is likely to take place in the future,” he said.
On Feb. 19, planners held an open house at the Buckhead Theatre to discuss the project with residents. The planners showed large maps illustrating proposed changes.
Wayne Morgan, who lives in Buckhead, walked on Peachtree to the theater for the presentation. He said it was the first time he’d walked the busy street.
“It’s ridiculous,” he said. “You can’t drive in urban areas at 50 miles an hour. The traffic has to be slowed down.”
After examining the maps closely, Gordon Certain, president of the North Buckhead Civic Association, said the proposed changes should help slow traffic. “I’m glad they’re paying attention to it,” Certain said. “I think it’s going to be a lot calmer for pedestrians.”
The first two phases of the overall Peachtree project have been completed, the CID says. The work already done covers Peachtree from Maple Drive to the Buckhead CID boundary at Roxboro Road.
The new designs will cover segments of Peachtree from Maple Drive to West Shadowlawn Avenue and then from Shadowlawn to Sheridan Drive. Construction is to begin this summer on the Shadowlawn-to-Sheridan segment. Work on the Maple-to-Shadowlawn segment is scheduled to begin in 2015, the CID says on its website.
“We’re taking a fresh look at [the unfinished segments],” Durrett said. “Is there something that accommodates the future flow of traffic and makes it a better corridor?”
Part of the intent is to make driving on Peachtree safer, he said. Another goal is to make pedestrians feel more comfortable walking around.
“Fairly often I walk from here to the [Buckhead] Village,” he said during a recent interview in his office in Tower Place, a high-rise near the intersection of Peachtree and Piedmont roads. “It’s not that far, but with the quality of the walking experience right now, it feels like it’s a long way. Once you improve the pedestrian experience, a lot more people will get out and walk from that part of Buckhead to this part of Buckhead.”
Work done on future phases of the project will differ from the work already done, in part because there is less space between buildings and the roadway that could be used to widen sidewalks or add bike lanes, Durrett said.
“[On the north end], we were able to widen Peachtree. You’re not going to be able to widen Peachtree down there,” he said. “You’re not going to have seven lane cross-sections with huge landscaping and huge sidewalks. People should not expect that. It’ll be scaled down from that….
“It’ll be a version of this, but a scaled-down version.”