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Northside Drive to reopen Dec. 7; sewage pump to be complete in August 2021

By David Pendered

Northside Drive in Buckhead is to reopen on Dec. 7, ending a total closure of the road for the past three months in a part of the city where travel has been impeded since 2017.

Woodward Way, May 2020

Atlanta is replacing a pump station with a larger unit that will handle more sewage and replace a former gravity feed that was made obsolete by new bridges at Northside Drive. Credit: David Pendered (May 2020)

Northside Drive is a major North-South roadway along the west side of Buckhead. It runs between I-75 and Peachtree Road through this portion of the city, serving local commuters as well as those traveling between Cobb County and Buckhead, Midtown and Downtown.

The impediments to travel have included a repaving project on Northside Drive; replacement of utility poles on the shoulder of Northside Drive; and construction at Piedmont Hospital of the Marcus Heart and Vascular Center, where construction started in January 2017 at the corner of Peachtree and Collier roads.

Contractors with the Georgia Department of Transportation closed Northside Drive on Sept. 8 to allow workers to work around the clock to replace two bridges at the intersection of Northside Drive and the triangle created by Woodward Way and Sagamore Way. GDOT offered this hope to commuters in a statement released Oct. 29:

  • “Weather and on-site conditions permitting, the lane closures on Northside Drive and detour route will be removed on Monday, December 7. Contractors will have completed construction of the two bridges at the intersection of Northside Drive and Woodward Way/Sagamore Way in addition to raising the existing roadways to meet new higher bridge elevations.”
Northside Drive, May 2020

Northside Drive is to reopen to travel on Dec. 7 in a move that also will end the rerouting of traffic through Buckhead neighborhoods. Credit: David Pendered (May 2020)

This project is expected to conclude work on and alongside the road that for years had slowed the normal flow of travel.

The most recent closure came as the major work was winding down around Piedmont Hospital, where construction of the tower had been hampered through the intersection of Peachtree and Collier road.

Piedmont opened some space in the tower in April, to serve patients during the shortage of hospital beds at an inflection point of the pandemic. The tower was opened on a fulltime basis on July 15, according to a statement.

Construction activities at the tower are not complete. Work is to continue into 2026, as the interior work is built out, according to Piedmont’s statement.

Nor is the work along Northside Drive complete. But what’s left to be done is to have little impact on travelers, according to GDOT’s statement:

  • “Between December and project completion [in August 2021], City of Atlanta crews will continue work on the Woodward Way pump station and GDOT contractors will perform drainage, erosion work, and repairs to impacted driveways and sidewalks. Among the final activities will be asphalt paving in the area, which has to be done in warm weather.”

Atlanta portrays the work at the pump station as two-fold: To build a bigger pump to handle more sewage; and to pump sewage that flowed by gravity before the bridge was elevated. The full project overview in a statement released by the city’s Department of Watershed observes:

  • “City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management (DWM) owns and operates Woodward Way Pump Station No.1 (PS-01) that will be upsized
    to handle larger flows. The proposed improvements include replacing the existing PS-01 with a larger pump station.
  • “The upsizing is required due to the replacement of Northside Drive Bridge over Peachtree Creek by the Georgia Department of Transportation. The proposed elevated bridge design prevents the existing 18- inch diameter gravity sewer along the Northside Drive to continue to operate by gravity requiring the flows to be pumped across.
  • “The sewer flows from the development North of the Woodward Way and Northside Drive intersection will be diverted to PS-01 which currently only receives flows from the residential development located on the Northeast quadrant of the same intersection. Additionally, sewer flows from existing PS-02 tributary area (Northwest of the intersection) will also be diverted to PS-01 such that two pump stations can be consolidated in to one. The PS-01 will be upsized significantly to handle additional flows and hydraulic head.”
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David Pendered

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.

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