A study aimed at fixing one of Buckhead’s worst intersection now will include suggestions about “regional transportation” after a public meeting where residents – including former City Councilmember Mary Norwood – called for public transit and even a subway line.

The three-way intersection of Roswell, Piedmont and Habersham roads is under study by the Buckhead Community Improvement District, which held an initial public meeting Nov. 14 and intends to have a final report around September 2019. The consulting firm Kimley-Horn and Associates is conducting the study.

Mary Norwood, right, the former city councilmember and mayoral candidate, speaks with residents about a possible new subway line and other transportation-related neighborhood improvements during the Nov. 14 meeting. (John Ruch)

At that meeting, there was no clear consensus on a design solution, but a lot of talk about commuter traffic being the underlying problem. Norwood, who was making one of her first public appearances since losing the mayoral race last year, gave a mini speech about the need to tackle the big picture, not just smaller intersection fixes, and revived an old idea of a subway line between Cobb County and Buckhead.

At the BCID’s Nov. 28 board meeting, the organization’s planning director, Darion Dunn, said that message about Cobb commuters was heard. “I’m one of them,” he added, saying he commutes daily on Habersham.

The “triangle” intersection of Roswell, Piedmont and Habersham roads as seen in a Google Earth map. Blackland Road feeds into the intersection as well.

Dunn said he met with the consultant to discuss “what we can do to get regional transportation” in that area and not just rearrange the intersection.

The BCID itself cannot build anything there – the intersection is outside its self-taxing business district boundaries, but it legally can fund the study. And creating public transit is well beyond its scope. BCID Executive Director Jim Durrett said the idea is to study the issue and possibly create recommendations for such organizations as the Atlanta Regional Commission or the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority.

“This is bigger than us,” Durrett said. But, he added, “Maybe we can do something to define the problem better.”

Meanwhile, the BCID is working to preserve the study itself, saying it is among the projects jeopardized by funding shortfalls in the Renew Atlanta bond and TSPLOST programs.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.