Luke Delporte didn’t like what he saw.
As he looked over a proposal to paint new stripes on Pharr Road in order to reduce the number of lanes used by cars on parts of the street and to create bike lanes, Delporte, who lives in a nearby Buckhead neighborhood, thought the plan would slow traffic and convince drivers to use side streets through residential areas.
“It’s a bad idea,” Delporte said after looking over the Pharr Road design during a public presentation March 4 at the Atlanta International School of proposals to restripe portions of Pharr and Paces Ferry roads in the Buckhead village. He was among about two dozen people who attended the presentation.
“You’re looking at one of the few arteries in Buckhead that is very fluid. You’re looking to reduce it. If the artery is blocking up, ultimately you might have a heart attack. … An artery that is in the heart of a city cannot be narrowed.”
But planners who developed the proposal say traffic counts show Pharr’s lanes could be trimmed to make room for bicycles. They propose taking the five lanes now on Pharr and restriping the road to create two through lanes, a central turn lane, and two bike lanes for much of the street connecting Peachtree and Piedmont roads.
Pharr would continue to provide four lanes for cars at its intersections with Peachtree and Piedmont, said Joel Mann, associate project planner for consultants Nelson Nygaard.
The plan made sense to Bruce Salzinger, who owns a business on Pharr, and Steve Jacobs, who lives in nearby Garden Hills.
“It’s a good idea,” Salzinger said. “They’re going to have lanes which will encourage people to use their bikes.”
Besides, Jacobs said, if the changes on Pharr don’t work, they, too, can be changed. “The good thing is, this is nothing but paint,” he said.
The Buckhead Community Improvement District is proving that point through proposed work on a stretch of West Paces Ferry. That plan also was presented during the meeting, which was sponsored by the BCID and the city of Atlanta.
BCID officials are proposing painting new stripes on a portion of West Paces Ferry that recently was “restriped” to create new bike lanes. But the new design proved confusing to drivers and has been unpopular with residents, so planners are proposing a re-do.
The new plan would return the lane configuration to what it had been before, with two lanes in each direction, provide one bike lane along the stretch between Slaton Drive and the St. Regis Atlanta hotel instead of two, and add a pedestrian crossing in the middle of the block.
“We think it’ll be less confusing because it’ll be less paint overall,” said Sean Johnston, a consultant with Kimley Horn.