Armed with a speed detection device, Midtown Alliance transportation team members spent a recent weekday afternoon documenting safety issues at the northern end of Spring Street. At the Buford-Spring Connector where motorists yield right to enter Spring Street, the posted speed limit is 35 miles per hour. But during a one-hour observation period, Midtown Alliance frequently observed vehicles traveling well above the speed limit, up to 49 miles per hour.
“That speed is especially unsafe for pedestrians on adjacent sidewalks, not to mention the growing number of bicycle and scooter riders who are required to share the road with cars,” said Midtown Alliance Director of Capital Projects, Cladie Washburn.
These safety concerns are primarily why Midtown Alliance is planning upgrades that would convert the Spring Street and West Peachtree Street north-south corridors into complete streets. The purpose of a complete street is to accommodate more than just motor vehicles by providing expanded and safe options for people walking, people riding bikes, and those using other mobility options, from skateboards to scooters.
Existing conditions at the north end of Spring Street, facing south, show how the southbound corridor makes it easy for drivers to move more quickly.
This rendering of the proposed Spring Street Complete Street project, facing south, illustrates the complete street upgrades including added crosswalks and protected bike lanes.
Priority Number One: Safety
The north end of Spring Street between 14th and Peachtree (also called SR-9/US-19) is managed by the Georgia Department of Transportation. Spring Street to the south of 14th Street falls under City of Atlanta right of way. At the northernmost section, vehicles take a no-stop right turn from the Buford Highway connector into the flow of the one-way street. Drivers entering the corridor can go fast here because the transition from highway exit ramp to urban street is so seamless.
“Spring and West Peachtree streets were initially designed to get motorists through Midtown,” said Midtown Alliance Director of Transportation Dan Hourigan. “With more development and more residents, these corridors need to serve people, not just cars, so improving safety for everyone is crucial.”
Spring Street, facing north. Motorists coming from Buford Highway yield right to enter Spring Street, which invites higher travel speeds and creates unsafe conditions for people walking. Referring to the Buford-Spring intersection, one community member recently commented in an online forum, “I avoid walking in this area and sometimes take the bus just a few blocks to avoid having to use this crosswalk.”
Survey Says: Reduce Automobile Reliance, Increase Safety for People Walking
The Midtown Transportation Plan, later incorporated into The City of Atlanta’s 2018 transportation plan provides a guiding blueprint for how Midtown Alliance and its partners intend to update the Spring Street and West Peachtree Street north-south corridors. In addition, the 2016 Midtown Alliance community survey showed that pedestrian safety is a leading priority for Midtown residents and workers, with 94 percent of the more than 3,500 respondents indicating they want Midtown to be even more walkable.
“As the City continues to grow, maximizing the existing infrastructure and shifting travel away from driving alone is a must,” Hourigan said. “Accomplishing this by providing high-quality pedestrian and bicycle facilities is exactly what projects like this one intend to deliver.”
The buildings highlighted in purple are currently in construction while those in blue are proposed and have passed the development review process. New developments along Sprint Street will bring more people to residential buildings, including a 600-unit SCAD dormitory currently under construction and set to open in 2020. The proposed Midtown Union mixed-use development at Spring and 17th streets would deliver 605K square feet of office space, 350 residential units and 255 hotel keys once completed.
About the Spring and West Peachtree Complete Street Projects
Midtown Alliance is working with the City of Atlanta and GDOT on concepts for the Spring Street corridor in Midtown and its northbound partner West Peachtree Street that would add complete street features to accommodate more travel options beyond cars. While agency oversight is different for each, these one-way streets work together in pairs within the larger context of Midtown’s street grid.
Proposals for each corridor include repurposing one of the existing four lanes of traffic in order to create protected lanes for alternative transportation like bikes and scooters, as well as wider sidewalks, landscaping and ADA-compliant ramps and crosswalks.
Midtown Alliance began work on the first phase of the Spring Street project in early 2018 and is currently working with GDOT, in partnership with the City, to analyze the traffic impacts of the proposed improvements on its roadway and the adjacent streets. The second phase of Spring Street and the West Peachtree Street project was kicked off last month. Collaboration between the City and GDOT is critical to achieving shared goals of creating streets that are safe, accessible, and support economic development.
More than 75 community members attended a Midtown Alliance public information meeting on February 20 at The Garage at Tech Square to review and offer feedback on the Spring Street and West Peachtree Street Complete Street projects.
Want to get involved & stay informed?
To learn more about these and other complete street projects proposed for the district, visit the Midtown Alliance website using the links below. Sign up for email updates from Midtown Alliance and send your project-related questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.