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Atlanta may take back some of Peachtree Street from cars

November 26, 2020 GMT

ATLANTA (AP) — Cars could soon have to share a portion of Atlanta’s most iconic thoroughfare with walkers and bicyclists.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the city is has plans to reimagine part of Peachtree Street as a shared space.

That might involve eliminating the curb, installing special pavement, reducing car lanes or adding outdoor restaurant seating along the road. Officials and residents hope the project could bring more life to a part of town that can be sleepy at times, while pushing back on Atlanta’s notoriously car-centric nature.

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“We want to make the street one that is inviting and, by the design of the street itself, it enables more of a vibrant street life,” said Tim Keane, the commissioner of Atlanta’s Department of City Planning. Right now, he said, Peachtree “for the most part ... is not a lively, urban place.”

The city is still relatively early in the process, so officials are not yet able to estimate how much this could cost or when it could be completed. Atlanta is currently seeking input from residents about a 1.2-mile (1.9-kilometer) from North Avenue, near the Fox Theatre, through midtown and downtown to Marietta Street at the Five Points intersection.

Officials will continue to gather feedback through December, eventually coming up with possible designs that could be tested on Peachtree in the spring.

Right now, much of Peachtree Street is four or five lanes, with sidewalks on either side and crosswalks every several hundred feet — not very pedestrian friendly, said Darin Givens, a former downtown resident who co-founded ThreadATL, an urbanism advocacy organization.

He likes the idea of Peachtree becoming “a place where cars and pedestrians and bicyclists can have this kind of slow, safe interaction with each other.”

Residents are also hopeful the redesign could attract more people to parts of downtown that can be empty.

Pam Revie-Pettersen, president of the Atlanta Downtown Neighborhood Association, said she and her neighbors are thrilled at the idea of redesigning Peachtree, but she said she has a “file cabinet full of plans” that never came to fruition. Her group is also pushing the city to clean up downtown and enforce codes.

Councilman Amir Farokhi, who represents much of downtown, predicted a redesign wouldn’t have a huge impact on traffic, even if car lanes are reduced; Peachtree is usually not as clogged as other Atlanta thoroughfares.

A serious redesign would “inevitably benefit downtown,” Farokhi said. “And help address some of the frustration that exists today.”