By John Schaffner

Nearly 100 Buckhead residents and representatives of developers heard BeltLine planners Oct. 30 discuss plans for building a two-lane parkway along Peachtree Creek, to provide an east/west connection between Peachtree and Piedmont roads, and outline specifics about new and re-development outlooks, transit route options and parks and trails.

The proposed Peachtree Creek Parkway and the continuing negotiations regarding the PATH trail through Tanyard Creek Park were the two issues that seemed of most interest to those attending the meeting.

One thing that became very apparent, during the hour-long Master Plan update presentation at the Peachtree Hills Recreation Center, is that just about all of the plans for the parkway and transit line options are heavily impacted by the CSX rail line that runs through this area of lower Buckhead.

Ed McKinney, of the Glatting Jackson consulting firm that is working on the Beltline Master Plan, pointed out that the “CSX corridor is an active freight line” and it “is a significant constraint.” He said that what is unique to this study area for the BeltLine Master Plan is “the active rail corridor that will remain so in the future.”

One reason that is important is that BeltLine planners would like to run the BeltLine transit and trail network along the along the rail corridor and in the rail right-of-way. However, McKinney pointed out that federal authorities require a 40-foot separation between two different use rail lines.

The CSX right-of-way in most areas is 100 feet wide, which would accommodate both the CSX rail traffic (with two rails), the BeltLine transit (with possibly two rails) and the trail system.

One option where the 100-foot right-of-way does not work is with a proposed transit station on Peachtree Road north of Piedmont Hospital. There is not room for the trail along with the rail at that station.

One transit option presented has a transit station on grade with Peachtree Road at the location north of Piedmont Hospital and has the transit line actually crossing Peachtree Road in an area not very far north of one of the worst backup intersections in Atlanta, Peachtree and Collier roads.

Concentrating on that same area or Peachtree Road, which is at the top end of the BeltLine study area, McKinney said the plan proposes considerable redevelopment in the areas of Colonial Homes, Piedmont Heights and Lindbergh, including creating a significant amount of public open space on Peachtree, which might include a transit station.

Referring to the Peachtree focus area near Piedmont Hospital, McKinney said the redevelopment needs to move the structures out of the flood plains on both sides of the road and closer to Peachtree Road.

McKinney said the Peachtree Creek Parkway, which would transition vehicle traffic from Peachtree Park Drive near Peachtree Road Garson Road near Piedmont Road, is planned to be only a two-lane road, not a major thoroughfare. He did say it is expected to relieve some of the east/west traffic pressure that presently exists on Peachtree Hills Drive and Lindbergh Drive.

It also would connect the new development area on Peachtree Road with that around the MARTA rail yard and Armour Circle near Piedmont Road.

Turning to developments in the negotiations over the Tanyard Creek Park PATH, McKinney said the majority of support is for placing the PATH on the west side of Tanyard Creek and the planners are moving forward with that route while evaluating the impact of it. He said the route makes sense because it puts the trail on the correct side of the creek for passing under the Collier Road bridge.

McKinney called on Steve Hart, a resident of the park area who is part of the study group, to explain negotiations that had taken place just days before the Oct. 30 meeting.

Hart said the PATH Foundation had done field studies and had found no flaws with using the west route.

He also said the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) has “approved in principle” the west route and the encroachment into the state’s mandated 25-foot stream buffer. However, the EPD is requiring that PATH use a pervious concrete surface for the trail and not either impervious concrete or a boardwalk.

Hart said one new wrinkle in negotiations is that PATH wants to move the bridge, that would carry the trail from the east side of the creek to the west side, some 175 feet further up into the meadow of the park, which was upsetting to several people at the meeting.

Hart pointed out that a concession PATH has made is to reduce the width of the trail from 15 feet to 12 feet.

Hart then invited anyone interested to come to the park on Saturday, Nov. 3 at 10 a.m. and he would brief them on the new recommendations.