I. Welcome & Introductions
Tom Tidwell called the meeting to order at about 6:45 PM
II. Approval of Minutes
Minutes for the September meeting were approved.
III. Admit New Member Neighborhoods
No neighborhoods asked to be considered for BCN membership
IV. BCN Standing Committees
- Communications – Tom Tidwell reminded
- Education – No report
- Development/Infrastructure – No report
- Transportation – Gordon Certain made a presentation on a proposed streetcar line on Peachtree Road:
In an April presentation to BCN, Beltline spokespeople
surprised Buckhead with a report that a rail-based streetcar system initially planned to service the Beltline loop was to be extended (years in the future) up Peachtree Road to Lenox Square and maybe farther. That segment was projected to cost $376 million in an overall city-wide system valued at $3+ billion. Since that meeting, Gordon found additional documentation on the City’s web sites which updated the plan.
In order to understand the impact a streetcar system might have on Buckhead traffic, Gordon and his wife Sue went Downtown and rode the existing streetcar system which connects Centennial Olympic Park to the King Center. That streetcar operates free of charge through the end of the year, yet perhaps only 40% of the seats were occupied, apparently by local residents. There were few obvious tourists.
The current streetcar stops for passengers at approximately ¼-mile intervals and thus averages an effective speed of five MPH. Gordon argued that if a similar streetcar were operated in Buckhead on Peachtree at comparable speed, it would have a significant negative impact on Buckhead traffic.
Being a rail-based system, streetcars have no ability to steer around obstacles, as buses can. Further, Peachtree already has bus service, so the streetcar would be redundant.
Click here to see Gordon’s full presentation. Gordon asked Buckhead neighborhoods to join in an online survey his neighborhood was conducting through November 1. The total response, shown below, included 88 from North Buckhead and 73 from other Buckhead neighborhoods. 84% opposed Peachtree Road streetcars.
- Other – No report
Andrew Heath – Briefing by GDOT on Peachtree Road lane changes
Andrew Heath, P.E. made the presentation for GDOT. His job title is State Traffic Engineer, Georgia Department of Transportation. His office address is 935 E. Confederate Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30316. He can be reached at the following numbers: Office: 404-635-2828, Mobile: 404-683-5674.
The topic of restriping Peachtree Road’s traffic lanes has been explored for a couple of years. During that time a number of options were considered at public meetings. This presentation appears to be GDOT’s effort to focus on a single option. In the area under study, Peachtree between Deering Road and Maple Drive, the segment between Maple Drive and Pharr Road is being handled by the Buckhead CID while GDOT is in charge of the remainder.
One of the main drivers for change is the high accident rate on Peachtree Road. The accident rate is generally thought to be the result of an almost total absence of dedicated left turn lanes. Instead, left-turning vehicles impede traffic through traffic, so the average utilization of the inside left lanes is reported to be about 15%. All of the recent options considered by GDOT (other than No Build), include the conversion of one of Peachtree’s six traffic lanes into a two way left turn lane (TWLTL). (The TWLTL lane is just painted on the pavement and involves no landscaped medians or pedestrian refuges.)
Another relevant characteristic of Peachtree in the area included in GDOT’s study is that the right of way is unusually narrow: the six traffic lanes occupy 60 feet, averaging a narrow 10’ each. Sidewalks are also narrow and immediately adjacent to the traffic lanes, making walking uncomfortable and risky.
Andrew’s 33-page presentation covered a lot of territory. Click Here to see the complete presentation from GDOT at BCN meeting Oct 2015. It covers many of the alternatives recently considered. Rather than attempt to restate the content of his presentation, the following page shows Andrew’s charts on the six recent alternatives together with a summary which ranks each alternative’s morning time Level of Service (LOS) at 24 intersections.
Three of the seven options shown on the next page, including the one favored by GDOT, involve on-street bike lanes. Andrew’s presentation reported on the recent highly regarded restriping of Ponce de Leon Avenue (PDL), which now has the same configuration recommended by GDOT for the part of Peachtree between Peachtree Battle Avenue and Deering Road. PDL has four through lanes, a center TWLTL, and bike lanes on both sides. Motor vehicle and bicycle traffic apparently coexist very well on PDL. That appears to have made GDOT confident that the same approach could work well as proposed in the “Peachtree Battle Hybrid Alternative”. See the figure at the right.
The GDOT solution for Peachtree also includes four through lanes, a 12-foot TWLTL, and a pair of 4-foot bike lanes from Peachtree Battle Avenue to Deering Road. From Peachtree Battle, north to Pharr Road, the GDOT configuration includes five though lanes, a 10-foot TWLTL, and no bike lanes.
The chart below was not presented at the BCN meeting. It is an alternative page 26 from GDOT presentations made roughly a week earlier to some Buckhead neighborhoods. It presents a seemingly different assessment of the merit of the various alternatives. Those alternatives are mostly the same as shown in the multi-colored figure from page 26 presented to BCN, above.
These are some of the charts that Andrew presented to support the selection of the Peachtree Battle Hybrid Alternative. He argued that that option best supported the goals set out in the first chart below. He also argued that the bike lanes would provide pedestrians a welcome buffer from vehicle traffic.
In the Q&A session, meeting attendees expressed outrage. The apparently unanimous response was solid opposition to the GDOT proposal, though reasons cited for opposition differed. Some felt that bikes had no place on Peachtree since motor vehicle traffic was already very congested and getting worse. Others felt the congestion on fewer traffic lanes on Peachtree would flood their quiet neighborhood streets with cut-through traffic. Some questioned if there were even enough Peachtree area bike traffic to justify having bike lanes. Others expressed concern for the safety for bike riders who would only have a four-foot lane, bounded by a ten-foot traffic lane on the left and the curb on the right. Some argued that Ponce de Leon was a poor model for what should be done to Peachtree since PDL’s right of way was wider than Peachtree’s. And so forth. Yolanda Adrean asked an interesting question: had any alternative routes to Peachtree been considered by GDOT? Andrew answered “No”.
Andrew said that GDOT would hold an October 29 public open house to secure public input on the GDOT plan. The format was to be unusual: only the GDOT plan would be presented. Attendees could either express support for the plan or say why they didn’t like it. There would be no alternatives to vote for.
VI. Community Concerns/New Business/Announcements
VII. Next Meeting November 13, 2015
VIII. Adjourn – The meeting adjourned at about 8:15 PM.
Note: The opinions expressed by the speakers and individual neighborhood representatives in these minutes do not necessarily represent those of BCN or its member neighborhoods.