With the opening of MARTA station pedestrian bridges and a new north entrance set for June 24, Buckhead is one step closer to the Community Improvement District’s “walkability” goal.
The $32 million bridge at the 3360 Peachtree Road station spans Ga. 400, connecting two sides of Buckhead for both pedestrians and transit users.
“The bridge really serves two purposes,” said Buckhead CID Executive Director Jim Durrett. “One purpose is connectivity, [while] the new entrance immediately makes a lot of properties accessible to transit to a degree they are not already.”
The CID, a self-taxing entity made up of area businesses that invests tax dollars into the district, helped compile the funding for the project and contributed $1.2 million.
Longtime Buckhead resident Gordon Certain said the pedestrian bridges will cut off about ¼ mile for those living in his North Buckhead neighborhood to walk to the train.
“The new bridge and MARTA station are really good for our neighborhoods,” said Certain, secretary for the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods. “We’ve supported [the project] since it was planned.”
Running by the MARTA station will be a greenway, under construction, that will eventually connect to the Atlanta BeltLine. The five-mile, $10 million PATH400 will extend from Loridans Drive to the beltline’s Peachtree Creek spur trail.
Denise Starling, executive director of Livable Buckhead, said the path’s connection to the MARTA station and the beltline will enable pedestrians to connect to the entire city. Livable Buckhead, a nonprofit, is partnering with the CID and PATH Foundation on the project.
“You don’t realize how connected everything can be; that’s what the trail really starts to achieve,” she said.
Certain said that the trail runs through his neighborhood, and while some residents are concerned about the path by their backyards, he thinks they’ll get used to it. “I did some survey work and found that people who regularly use multipurpose trails were much more favorable because they have much more familiarity with them,” he said.
The projects don’t end with bridges and trails. The Peachtree Transformation project aims to make the roadway more attractive and pedestrian friendly by adding wider sidewalks, bike lanes and updated lighting. Phases 1 and 2 from Roxboro Road to Maple Drive are complete, and Phases 3 and 4 are in the design phase, stretching from Maple to Sheridan Drive.
Also in the works, widening of the Piedmont and Habersham roads intersection, which will make it safer for motorists and pedestrians, Durrett said.
Still, Certain says improvements are still needed to accommodate increasing traffic. “The way the urban part of Buckhead developed was not pedestrian-oriented, so having the trail and more emphasis on walkability is good. But, we’re not building any more roads. We need to be smarter and more careful in what we build.”