The Buckhead Community Improvement District presented plans for a more walkable Lenox Road Sept. 6 to an optimistic crowd that mostly welcomed the plans for new multi-use trails along the major corridor.
The hope of the project is to get Lenox Road to “at least resemble a city street,” complete with walkable trails that can also be used by cyclists, instead of place for only cars, Darion Dunn, the CID’s director of capital improvements and planning, said at the meeting held at the Buckhead Library. About 30 people attended the meeting.
The project is part of the recently released “Buckhead REdeFINED” master plan and would bring new multi-use trails to Lenox Road from Piedmont to East Paces Ferry Road. The proposed trails would be 10 feet wide, allowing use by both pedestrians and cyclists. The plan would also install new crosswalks, allowing for the first time legal crossing of Ga. 400 ramps at the interchange with Lenox Road. One of the trails would connect to PATH400.
To be able to have enough room for the trails, the Lenox Road lanes would be narrowed from 12 feet to 11 or 10 feet in different areas. This narrowing would also lower car speeds, making the road safer for pedestrians and drivers, Steven Hopper, a landscape architect at Stantec, explained.
“What we are trying to do with the plan is to bring more connectivity, accessibility and safety to the road,” Hopper said.
The CID created the Lenox Road Scoping Study with the help of planning firm Stantec, a required step to get the Georgia Department of Transportation, which controls the road, to sign off on the project.
The CID will hold at least one more public meeting on the project, use input from the meetings to tweak the plan if needed and then submit it to GDOT for approval, Dunn said. The CID will then work to obtain funding for the project and put out requests for bids for the construction. Dunn said construction can be expected to begin within two to three years.
Work on the section of Lenox Road from Peachtree Road to East Paces Ferry Road will likely occur first, Dunn said. That part of Lenox is controlled by the city of Atlanta, which Dunn said has expressed support of the project. A boardwalk will be created along Lenox Road in this section.
That section of Lenox also runs along Lenox Square mall, and the project will benefit from having the support of the mall’s manager, Robin Suggs, on the CID board, Dunn said.
Suggs attended the open house and expressed support the project, giving a thumbs up and saying, “this is a good thing.”
“I think the boardwalk development will be a nice addition and the project will improve connectivity to Phipps [Plaza] which is always a tough thing when you’re crossing so many streets,” Suggs said.
Ben Howard, the president of the Buckhead Condo Alliance, also expressed support, saying it will bring pedestrians to the area and allow people to have an option other than driving.
“There aren’t many pedestrians now, but it’s because there is really nowhere to walk. This will bring pedestrians and give people options,” Howard said.
Sally Flocks, the president and CEO of PEDS, which advocates for safer pedestrian access in Atlanta, approves of the project.
“I’m glad to see the wide sidewalks. Most of this does look like its making it better,” Flocks said. “It’s crazy to have high-density housing and lots of jobs with roads that don’t work for people.”
Gordon Certain, the president of the North Buckhead Civic Association, said he is worried there will not be enough done to educate drivers there are now crosswalks running across the Ga. 400 ramps.
“You can cross there, but you’ll get run over,” Certain said. “People need to be able to cross [Ga. 400]. To be able to cross is good, to be able to do it safely would be better.”
Mindy Biggs, who lives on Ferncliffe Road, which is off of Lenox Road south of East Paces Ferry Road, said she agrees changes need to be made to make the area more walkable and approves of the project proposals.
“I think the concept is really good and trying to make it more pedestrian friendly is good,” Biggs said. She added that trying to cross streets or walk in some areas currently is “just plain scary.”
“I applaud the people who are trying to do something to improve it,” she said.