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Progress Update: New Traffic Signals Coming to Several Midtown Intersections

New signals will bring much-needed safety enhancements to Midtown’s transportation network



You're probably not thinking about it. But this year will mark the 75th anniversary of one of the most notable tragedies involving a motor vehicle striking a pedestrian on the streets of Midtown.

While she was walking across Peachtree Street at 13th Street on her way to see a movie, Margaret Mitchell - author of "Gone With the Wind" and one of Midtown's most celebrated residents - was fatally struck by a speeding motorist. An August 11, 1949, newspaper article states that the driver "veered sharply and went into a skid, knocking Miss Mitchell to the pavement. Police measured tire skid marks for sixty-seven feet along Peachtree Street."

Mitchell died a few days later from her injuries.

As Midtown has grown immensely in the seven-and-a-half decades since Mitchell's death into one of the city's most walkable urban places, designing safer streets for people has never been more important.

At City Hall, much progress has been made in recent years on the policy front, from reducing the speed limit on most streets in the city to 25 MPH to creating a "Vision Zero" action plan. And more progress has happened on the ground in Midtown, with intersection improvements, complete street projects and signal timing tweaks such as establishing Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPIs) at crosswalks that allow pedestrians to begin crossing before motorists get the green light.

And now this Spring via a partnership between Midtown Alliance and the ATLDOT, and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), eight new traffic signals and two pedestrian actuated signals will go live in the district after several months of construction - including at Peachtree and 13th Streets - to create safer conditions for people on foot, in cars, and on bikes. You can read more here about the “Last Mile Intersection Improvements” project and the “13th Street Traffic Signals” project.

Here's a quick overview of where you'll find these new traffic signals and crossing signals for pedestrians, and what you can expect next:

Where Are the New Signals Going In?

Eight traffic signals are being installed at the following locations:

  • Spring St @ 3rd St
  • Spring St @ 4th St
  • Spring St @ Peachtree Pl
  • West Peachtree St @ 4th St
  • Piedmont Ave @ 13th St
  • Juniper @ 13th St
  • Peachtree @ 13th St
  • West Peachtree St @ 13th St

Additionally, two signals that allow safe crossings for people on foot will be installed soon. These include a pedestrian-actuated signal at Piedmont Ave @ 15th St and a rapid-flashing beacon at Colony Square on Peachtree Street, situated mid-block between 14th St and 15th St.

“Creating and maintaining a safe environment permeates everything we do as an organization,” said Midtown Alliance Capital Projects Manager Forrest Rose. “Converting unsignalized intersections to signalized means reducing the likelihood of conflicts between motorists, pedestrians, and micromobility users. It also brings more efficiencies to Midtown’s street grid and connects with other functional improvements that Midtown Alliance and the City have delivered, including bike lanes, ADA-accessible crosswalks, and other features.”

What You Can Expect During the Installation Process

The initial phase is nearly complete, connecting each part of the intersection to facilitate communication between the traffic signals, pedestrian signals, traffic cabinets, and other components.

In the coming weeks, signal poles will be installed at each location. And in early-Spring, the long poles supporting the signal heads (known as mast arms) will be attached.

From left to right: Piedmont @ 13th; Spring @ 4th; West Peachtree St @ 4th

After the signals are fully installed, a month-long "burn-in period" will take place, during which signals will be tested by the City and timed for safety and efficiency. During this time, message boards will be displayed to inform the traveling public about the upcoming changes to the intersection. Be sure to keep up with Midtown Alliance’s e-mail and social media channels for updates as well.

What Else Can Traffic Signals Do?

There are broader benefits to having more signals in the district, as they can be timed to reduce vehicle speeds and adjusted for better traffic flow during peak period travel times. Additionally, the poles can accommodate traffic cameras with multi-modal counting capabilities. This ties into measuring usage and changes on Midtown corridors, and to ultimately track performance on complete street projects once they are delivered.

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