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'Peachtree Boulevard' Project Makes Walking Easy

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  • Andie Miller
    Peachtree Boulevard Project Makes Walking Easy POSTED: 6:30 pm EDT October 16, 2007 UPDATED: 6:34 pm EDT October 16, 2007 ATLANTA -- Imagine walking from
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 18, 2007
      'Peachtree Boulevard' Project Makes Walking Easy

      POSTED: 6:30 pm EDT October 16, 2007
      UPDATED: 6:34 pm EDT October 16, 2007


      ATLANTA -- Imagine walking from Piedmont Road along Peachtree Street to
      Lenox Square. Unthinkable for all but the most hardy walkers.

      For years, this most expensive half mile of real estate in Georgia has
      prepared to gamble on a new strategy for beating traffic. Buckhead leaders
      are calling the half mile, twenty million dollar project "Peachtree
      Boulevard." It runs from just south of Piedmont to the Marta station on
      Peachtree Road. They're wagering that nice sidewalks, benches and trees may
      entice drivers from their cars. State and Atlanta tax money came up with
      three fourths of the improvements here, and local property owners taxed
      themselves 5 million dollars to build the new street scape.

      Tuesday afternoon, pedestrians saw for themselves if the gamble was worth
      the money.

      Atlanta taxpayers paid a million dollars, state and federal taxpayers
      another $14 million and the property owners themselves poneyed up the
      rest -- over $5 million.

      New oak trees and buffered median give walkers a safe respite halfway across
      Peachtree Road. Drivers have fewer crazy left turns to wait out. And Mayor
      Franklin herself led the way opening a bicycle lane with a snip of some
      three-foot scissors.

      In the past, congestion fighting has meant more high speed multi lane
      highways. But when Georgia 400 came through 14 years ago, traffic on
      Peachtgree Road almost doubled, overnight. Property owners had a few
      choices: live with the congestion, try adding a lane to Peachtree, or find a
      better way.

      The choice was hard fought. Consultants and real estate developers convinced
      city, state and neighborhood traffic planners to cough up the plans to
      involve everyone in giving up money and roadway for foot and bike traffic.
      Today, eleven foot sidewalks, 80 specially designed benches, a five foot
      wide bike lane, and a fancy Marta entrance gleam in the October sun.

      Drivers get a better deal than before, too. Traffic moves more smoothly
      because cross-cutting, left turning drivers are thwarted by the median.
      U-turns at intersections allow more calm movements across the street. Says
      Business Improvement District leader Scottie Green. "We have widened the
      road to accomodate bicycles, extra turn lanes, a median, pedestrian refuge
      and cut back on turning accidents."

      David Allman, developer of several projects on Peachtree Road says the area
      is ripe to be a model for other small towns burdened with too mcuh traffic.
      He likes what he sees here as people come to visit and experience places
      that have character.

      And the once-least likely celebrant? That's Sally Silver. She long opposed
      plans for Buckhead, especially the Georgia 400 idea. She was the last
      protester standing when that massive highway project opened. Now she's
      beaming at the ribbon cutting.

      "It's easier to work with folks at getting the best outcome than to just
      stamp your foot and say no," she admits.

      Of course, some Buckhead travellers don't think it's perfect. Carrie Podber,
      from Pharr Road, says the trees are nice but she'd rather have another lane
      of asphalt. She says "I'm more about efficiency than looking pretty. I think
      it could have been another lane there." But other coffee sippers at Caribou
      Coffee disagree. A midtown resident, in Buckhead for a business meeting,
      wonders what misery would be happening if Buckhead had not planned for this
      future.

      "If we don't gamble, what's the alternative? Are we just going to be
      congested all the time? At twelve and at five like in buckhead with the
      gridlock we currently have?" Gary Carter, Geographics Company.
      Copyright 2007 by WSBTV.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be
      published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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