Growth of Atlanta’s Buckhead Community Brings Traffic Concerns
(APN) ATLANTA — The population of Atlanta’s Buckhead community is quickly growing, and numerous housing and retail projects are coming online to meet the demand; however, for some homeowners and small business owners, traffic is becoming a bit of a nightmare.
“The census from 2000 to 2010 in Buckhead increased almost 12,000 people… The apartments being built are as a result of this growth. The younger people are moving to Buckhead, which has 8,370 apartments under development in different stages,” Sam Massell, former Mayor of Atlanta and President of the Buckhead Coalition, told Atlanta Progressive News.
“These apartments are within a two square mile radius of where a lot of the new buildings are being developed, and most of these young people will be walking to work or bicycling so they don’t create as much traffic as normal,” Massell said.
One of these new projects is the Buckhead Atlanta development on Peachtree Street and Pharr Road. It is a six block development of over 800,000 square feet of customizable space, including 300,000 square feet of upscale retail, restaurants, and cafes; more than 100,000 square feet of luxury office; and approximately 400,000 square feet of high-rise residential.
Atlanta Councilwoman Mary Norwood (Post 2-at-large), who lives in Buckhead, agrees there are major traffic issues.
“Right now we can’t get out of our driveway on Habersham unless someone lets us in the traffic line. At least two hours every workday, traffic in the early evening is backed up coming from the central business district. Every morning it is a speedway going the other way,” Norwood said.
“Many are working hard and are very concerned including Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean [District 8] and Commissioner [Richard] Mendoza [of Public Works],” Norwood said.
“One of the things that can be done is with the infrastructure bonds next year. We are working on trying to get money for infrastructure improvements. If done, this it may make a dent in the infrastructure improvements needed,” Norwood said.
Norwood currently serves on a citywide Commission on Waste & Efficiency that is looking to identify ways for the City of Atlanta to save money, so that an infrastructure bond can be undertaken without raising taxes.
“Commissioner Mendoza has been talking about signalization, and there has been a lot of advancement with traffic signals and new sensors that monitor and adjust signals, and, if implemented, this also can have a positive effect on traffic,” Norwood said.
“Buckhead developed a central business district without the appropriate infrastructure on so many levels and there have been several issues over the years that many of us are still actively working on solutions,” Norwood said.
“Peachtree Road is a state road and it’s already at capacity. The long-term solution would be to widen Peachtree Road, but that is not a plan that is on the table. Right now there is no funding for it and that is a state issue which should be addressed by the Georgia Department of Transportation,” Councilwoman Adrean told APN.
“The new apartments opening up will put an additional strain on Peachtree Road. There is a plan they are considering that will re-stripe the lanes and that is called the Peachtree Transformation Project and I’m currently looking at models and data,” Adrean said.
“Now that the recession is over, companies are building on their land, which they have a right to do, but this will continue to put strain on our infrastructure,” Adrean said.
“We don’t have the power legally to do what is needed to address all the traffic issues but we have been very involved over the years,” Massell agreed.
Massell continued, “Traffic is a good thing for businesses but it’s a problem that needs to be addressed. The Buckhead Coalition has been doing it for 25 years and the first undertaking was lobbying for Georgia 400 to come to Buckhead. It was 25 years ago that this law was adopted and that had a tremendous effect on reducing traffic.”
“The growth continues and there’s more traffic so more reform is needed. The Buckhead Coalition played a huge part in the new lanes that now connect Georgia 400 and Interstate 85. It is reducing traffic around Sydney Marcus and Piedmont Road,” Massell said.
“There’s also the Peach Bus that runs from Buckhead to downtown and Midtown that runs seven days a week with no transfers,” Massell said.
When asked if there was any good plan for parking in Buckhead when the new development is open, Massell said “The Buckhead Atlanta development has a lot of parking underneath that will take the cars off of the street and there is ample parking. In fact it is over-parked.”
“Addressing traffic is an ongoing process and with growth you bring traffic. There are five dozen art galleries in Buckhead, restaurants, museums… and we pay for those amenities with traffic just like any other big city. Even with all the growth, I am very pleased and feel that Buckhead is in very good shape,” Massell said.