Bike photos courtesy Midtown Alliance

By Collin Kelley
INtown Editor

Recognizing sustainable businesses, more bike lanes and the ongoing streetscape projects are all part of the Midtown EcoDistrict game plan for the rest of 2014.

Created by the Midtown Alliance in 2012, the community-wide action plan integrates sustainability throughout the neighborhood to establish the South’s first urban eco-district.

Dan Hourigan, the Midtown Alliance’s director of transportation and sustainability, said one of the main projects for this year is EcoDistrict Luminaries, a certification program created to highlight businesses and buildings in Midtown that have made a significant commitment to green practices. Participants earn points in five categories by implementing specific initiatives that contribute to a more sustainable Midtown.

“We want to honor the businesses and their employees who are already working toward sustainability and inspire others to follow in their footsteps,” Hourigan said about the Luminaries program.

Residents, workers and visitors have more exciting projects to look forward to this year as well, including the completion of the Juniper streetscaping, which Hourigan described as a “showcase project.” He said the project is taking longer than expected, but there will be LED lighting installed, bioswales to help rainwater runoff, widening of sidewalks, new trees and a barrier-separated bike lane.

Hourigan said adding more bike lanes is another significant ongoing project with plans to add lanes to Peachtree and West Peachtree, upgrading the lanes on 5th Street and extending the 10th Street cycle track to Myrtle Street. Thirty new bike racks have been installed in Midtown and the Midtown Alliance is working with the city of Atlanta, business owners and MARTA on where bike share stations will go when the program comes online next year.

Digital signs to alert pedestrians and bike riders when MARTA trains, buses and other transit will arrive at stops and stations will also be installed later this year. Hourigan said Midtown Alliance has partnered with OneBusAway, an app and software created at Georgia Tech and the University of Washington to help improve the use of public transportation.

“OneBusAway will provide real time data for the digital signs and they will be hung at street level,” Hourigan said.

Digital public transportation monitors like these in Toronto are slated to be installed in Midtown.

He said that the Midtown Alliance is also working with hotels, apartments and condos to have the OneBusAway feed displayed on monitors

Also planned for this year is continuing work on the Gateway Connector Project to enhance the Peachtree Street bridges that cross the Downtown Connector. The Peachtree bridges at Brookwood Station and just south of the Emory University Hospital Midtown complex will both feature “monumental arches,” bike lanes, widened sidewalks and planted medians.

“We’re still moving through the permitting process with the Georgia Department of Transportation,” Hourigan said, “but we hope it will happen this year.”

For more about the Midtown EcoDistrict program and projects, visit midtownatl.com.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.