The five road improvement projects planned for the Buckhead area are still on schedule, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, but two other initiatives have been delayed, Buckhead Coalition President Jim Durrett said.
One project he stressed the importance of is Lenox Road complete street’s Phase 1, costing $6 million. Engineering work is expected to be done by the fourth quarter of 2020, construction is supposed to start in the first quarter of 2021 and it should be finished by the second quarter of 2022.
“We’re really looking forward to having this improvement made because this, as you know, is a major entrance into the (Buckhead business) district,” Durrett said.
He provided an update on the projects during his State of Buckhead Address during the Buckhead Business Association’s July 16 weekly breakfast meeting, which was held virtually due to the outbreak.
Durrett, who took over as the coalition’s president July 1 after Sam Massell retired, spent nearly 11 years as the district’s executive director before joining the coalition in a move where those two organizations, plus the association and Livable Buckhead, all merged.
The other four road projects are as follows:
♦ Piedmont Road widening from Peachtree to Lenox roads: Priced at $25 million, it’s in the middle of right-of-way negotiations, and engineering should be done by the second quarter of 2021. Construction should start by fourth quarter of next year, and it is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2023.
♦ Phipps Boulevard/Wieuca Road roundabout: Costing $8 million, the project’s engineering is supposed to be done by the third quarter of this year. Construction is expected to start in the second quarter of 2021, and it should be finished a year after that.
♦ Peachtree complete street project Phase III (Maple Drive to Shadowlawn Avenue): Costing $7.3 million, the project’s engineering was completed in 2019. Construction should start in the third quarter of this year and should be done by the fourth quarter of 2021.
♦ West Village streetscapes (Roswell Road and Andrews Drive): Priced at $5 million, the project’s engineering was done in 2019. Construction started in January and completion is expected by the end of this year.
“This fixed a major stormwater problem,” Durrett said. “We’re addressing that while improving streetscapes.”
He said the two projects put on hold are the largest and smallest ones in the group. The biggest is Hub404, previously known as the Park Over Georgia 400.
“It’s been put on hold due to COVID-19. Hard engineering and fundraising are the next steps,” Durrett said.
Hub404 is expected to cost between $200 million and $250 million, take up between 7.1 and 9.1 acres and be completed by 2025. Under the plan, a cap would be placed on top of the Buckhead MARTA station and part of 400 between Peachtree and Lenox roads to create the park, and the pedestrian bridge over 400, completed in 2014, would bisect the greenspace, Durrett said when it was announced in 2015.
In an email after the meeting, Durrett said the HUB404 Conservancy, a nonprofit founded to oversee the park project, “has paused fundraising and development efforts until economic conditions brought about by COVID-19 have improved.”
“When we are able to begin work again, our next steps will include completing the project’s engineering to confirm total construction costs and setting our fundraising goals,” he said. “The funds to complete the project’s engineering are in the works.”
The other project put on hold due to the pandemic is the Buckhead Uptown Connection bus service’s plan to become the first microtransit system in a major Atlanta office market. In September the district’s board voted to approve a one-year contract for $607,000 with Via, a provider of on-demand public mobility solutions. But with public transit ridership down due to the outbreak, it’s been shelved.
“I’m really excited about this and it’s something Livable Buckhead and the (district) have been working on for years,” Durrett said.
He also said he’s excited about the next segment in the Path400 Greenway Trail, from Miami Circle to Lenox Road, being completed. Path400 is a 5.1-mile multiuse trail that runs parallel to 400 and will eventually connect the BeltLine on its south end to a Sandy Springs path on the north end.
According to a graphic Durrett displayed in his presentation, Path400’s southern tip would also connect to the North Fork Trail that leads to Duluth and the South Fork Trail that runs to Emory University.