Pharr Road finally has its new car and bicycle lanes after a long summertime painting project that bewildered some drivers with overlapping lanes. It remains to be seen whether the new lanes will do their job of easing traffic flow.
“I think, from my point of view, it’s doing well,” said Brian McHugh, the transportation and planning director at the Buckhead Community Improvement District. “I’ve driven it several times and observed good, controlled traffic flow.”
But, McHugh added, road changes only truly prove themselves once the school buses start running.
“The background traffic’s still not heavy… the test comes when school’s back in,” McHugh said.
Not everyone is convinced the new lanes will pass that test. “It’s a terrible idea,” said north Buckhead resident Jim Cosgrove. “It’s far worse than what we had before.”
Cosgrove predicted real traffic problems will show up next spring, when Buckhead Baseball begins its busy season at Frankie Allen Park, which opens onto Pharr. He predicted traffic jams will force some drivers who use Pharr to cross Buckhead to use nearby neighborhood streets instead.
BCID proposed the restriping project earlier this year, targeting most of Pharr between Peachtree and Piedmont roads. Much of the previous four- to five-lane set-up was changed to two travel lanes and a central turn lane, plus a bike lane on either side. Among the goals were calming traffic, encouraging bike-riding and easing turns at the Peachtree and Piedmont intersections.
The city of Atlanta carried out the restriping this spring and summer, wrapping up around the beginning of July. The work drew complaints for dragging on for months and for temporary lane markings that were confusing and even dangerous to drivers, as 11Alive reported.
Richard Mendoza, the director of the city’s Department of Public Works, eventually paid a personal visit to make sure the street work was wrapping up properly, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“The temporary and permanent striping were overlapping each other,” McHugh said. “It’s good that [work] happened in the summertime.”
The restriping plan got a mixed response from residents and business owners when it was presented at a BCID-sponsored meeting in March.
Garden Hills resident Steve Jacobs, who attended the meeting, said he’s taking a wait-and-see attitude now that the work is done. “I’m still adjusting to it,” Jacobs said. “Driving on [Pharr] with narrow lanes will take an adjustment.”
“I haven’t heard any positive or negative response from the public,” said McHugh. “We have to wait and see as we go into September” and then hit the “crush period of the holidays,” he added.