Editor's note: This article represents the first in a series about the recent "Building Blocks of Buckhead" presentation that outlined Buckhead's 20-year plan, as developed by the Buckhead Community District, Livable Buckhead and the Buckhead Area Transportation Management Association.
The future of Buckhead's heavily travelled Peachtree and Piedmont Roads is a bright one if three key community groups — (BCID), (LBI) and the (BATMA) — are able to see their 20-year plan through.
The strategy for fixing many of the problems associated with Peachtree and Piedmont were outlined as part of the "Building Blocks of Buckhead," a 20-year plan for Buckhead presented by the three groups to residents last Friday at the . The BCID, LBI and BATMA collaborate on and coordinate projects to improve Buckhead's development standards, streetscapes, environmental issues, transportation and community sustainability.
The program was laid out by and , and highlighted many different projects around Buckhead to improve the community. However, the presentation focused first on Peachtree and Piedmont.
Durrett spoke on the different phases of improving Peachtree Road, which he said was the key factor in forming the BCID to begin with.
The goal, Durrett said, is to transform Peachtree from a "sewer for cars" to a "complete street for people" that not only handles traffic better but also accommodates pedestrians and offers transportation alternatives.
Phase one took the portion of Peachtree between Maple Drive and the Buckhead MARTA station and made a laundry list of improvements to better handle traffic, be more visually appealing and well equipped for walkers and bikers.
While phase one is complete, phase two is currently in the works and picks up where the first phase ended — continuing north to Roxboro Road and Peachtree Dunwoody Road. The same type of improvements are being made to this portion and will likely be completed for the most part a month from now, Durrett said.
Lenox Square and others in the private and public sectors are embracing the improvements and are "working together to create a better environment for everyone," he said.
Phase three, the details of which Durrett said are still being defined, will begin at Maple heading south.
"We may not get to work on that for a while so that you can get to enjoy Peachtree without orange barrels and appreciate how well the corridor works," Durrett said.
While Peachtree Road may be the "pretty pony" of Buckhead, Starling called Piedmont the "workhorse of the community." Considering how vital Piedmont Road is, Starling said a Piedmont Corridor Study showed more than a third of its intersections operate at failing conditions almost all day long — underscoring the importance of making the improvements.
Starling said that $2 million of total projects in the would go toward implementing several solutions to issues discovered in the study.
There is no "silver bullet solution" to the problem, Starling said, which is why a number of improvements are set to be made — one of which is a reallocating of lanes. Right now, Piedmont has three northbound lanes and three southbound lanes. The reallocation would cater to the majority of traffic traveling south and create more lanes traveling that direction than north.
One major problem currently being addressed is the bottleneck at Habersham Road and Piedmont, which Durrett explained can oftentimes back traffic up all the way to Peachtree Road.
"So many people are coming up Piedmont that want to turn left on Habersham. They capture that left lane because the turn lane is too short for the queue of cars that want to turn."
Durrett said that a continuous left hand turn lane will be created using CID funds to go back to having an adequate number of thru lanes to handle the heavy traffic flow.
“It will be under construction in 2013 and done within one year,” he said.
Durrett said that improvements have also been made to the BCID's program that funds in front of the Terminus building. Improvements have been made by allowing for better radio communication between the officers.
"We recently we took a look at how well that program was working and said we can do better. It really does work as a system to move traffic through the area when all their activities are coordinated."