Midtown’s 15th Street extension to improve east-west links; plan to be presented Nov. 8

By David Pendered

The public will have a chance next week to offer opinions on the long-awaited plan to improve east-west connectivity in Midtown by extending 15th Street from West Peachtree Street to Williams Street. Bike lanes and easy access to MARTA’s Arts Center Station, and other destinations, are cornerstones of the plan.

15th Street extension

The 15th Street extension is expected to ease traffic congestion on 14th Street as it provides an alternative to reach destinations on the northern portion of Midtown. Credit: midtownatl.com

The plan has been years in the making and Kevin Green, CEO of Midtown Alliance, has described the project as a much-needed route that is to ease traffic congestion on 14th Street.

The project isn’t that long, at just a few blocks. Nor is it all that expensive for an urban project, an estimated $3.7 million. The project is to be built on land owned by the Georgia Department of Transportation, which has reduced costs and the time to acquire property, according to a report by Midtown Alliance.

But the project is significant for its potential to knit together a street grid in a northern section of Midtown that has a shortage of east-west connections. The dearth of east-west portals exacerbates frustrations among those traveling between the growing number of residential communities west of Howell Mill Road and the shops and offices east of the Downtown Connector.

The public information open house for the planned 15th Street extension project is set for Nov. 8, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The location is 999 Peachtree St., the Midtown office building where Midtown Alliance is housed. The venue is the conference room on the 5th floor..

This is the description of the project provided in the report by Midtown Alliance:

  • “This project would be a multi-modal connection that extends 15th Street from its current end point at West Peachtree Street two blocks west to Williams Street. The entire extension would be implemented on GDOT right-of-way, eliminating the need for costly and time-consuming land acquisition.
  • “The proposed roadway design between West Peachtree Street and Spring Street would include a three-lane section consisting of one through lane in each direction and dedicated left-turn lanes approaching Spring Street and West Peachtree Street.
  • “The proposed lane section west of Spring Street would consist of a single through lane in each direction. Travel lanes are proposed to be 11-feet wide.
  • “Additionally, the new cross-section would consist of 5-foot wide bicycle lanes in each direction, a 5-foot tree planting/furniture zone, and a 10-foot sidewalk.
  • “The bicycle lanes would provide a direct connection to the Arts Center MARTA Station and existing and proposed developments as well as other bicycle routes.”

In terms of funding, Midtown Alliance observes:

Midtown travel restricted

The 15th Street extension in Midtown will improve east-west connectivity in the super block bounded by Williams and Spring streets, on Midtown’s western border. Credit: Google Earth Pro, David Pendered

  • “$188k in [Atlanta Regional Commission]/Federal funds (design only);
  • “$1.25M in Midtown Improvement District funds;
  • “$1.25M in City of Atlanta funds (impact fees);
  • “$1M in GDOT/Federal funds;
  • “Project Total: $3.7 million.”

The official purpose of the meeting is to give the public a chance to review conceptual designs for the project and provide feedback to the design team. This typically means the public has a chance to drop in, take a look at designs presented on large display boards, and tell representatives of the design team their thoughts on the renderings.

The unofficial purpose is to celebrate years of efforts by Midtown Alliance and other supporters to create streets that are accepting of pedestrians and bicycles. It’s been within the past 20 years that the original plan for the 10th Street bridge over the Downtown Connector was far from welcoming to those crossing on foot or bicycle.

The modification of that original plan itself is being revised, with an eye to making it more accessible to those traveling by means other than a car. The project is being developed in conjunction with Midtown Alliance and the design/engineering phase is to begin in late 2019, according to a report by Midtown Alliance.

Note to readers: Alternate modes of travel to 999 Peachtree, and nearby attractions, are available on a profile of the building maintained by Midtown Alliance.

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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