The Lake Hearn area of the Central Perimeter in metro Atlanta is about to get a nearly $5 million makeover.
The funds will be used to improve roads, intersections and aesthetics on Lake Hearn Drive, Perimeter Summit Parkway and Parkside Place between Ashford-Dunwoody Road and the Perimeter Center Parkway Bridge across Interstate 285.
Perimeter Community Improvement Districts is spearheading the planned upgrades, which are to be undertaken in two phases.
“This is within the footprint of the new city of Brookhaven,” says Yvonne Williams, president and CEO of the PCID. The total cost of the project is $4.9 million.
The project will improve transportation for commuters to Atlanta’s largest concentration of medical facilities and Perimeter Mall, which draws an estimated 18 million visitors a year, she said, and other large employers in one of the region’s biggest employment centers.
The PCIDs have been given permission to start the project from the Georgia Department of Transportation. A pre-construction meeting between the contractor, GDOT, the PCID and DeKalb County is complete and the project is expected to begin later this month. The construction contract has been awarded to Reeves Contracting Co. of Sugar Hill.
“The Lake Hearn project will help facilitate the live-work-walk environment of Perimeter in DeKalb County and promote the use of alternative transportation rather than the automobile,” Williams said.
Phase I of the Lake Hearn project includes streetscape construction along: Perimeter Summit Parkway, approximately 0.74 miles; Lake Hearn Drive, 0.61 miles; Parkside Place, 0.27 miles. The total project length is approximately 1.62 miles.
Phase II’s total length is 0.32 miles, including 0.15 miles along Lake Hearn Drive and 0.17 miles along Peachtree-Dunwoody Road.
The work involves pedestrian access improvements including the addition and/or renovation of sidewalks, pedestrian resting areas, pedestrian plazas at intersection corners, Americans with Disabilities Act compliance projects, street and pedestrian lighting, larger medians and islands, and restriping and/or addition of crosswalks.
Lane widths will be narrowed on Lake Hearn Drive, on Perimeter Summit Parkway from Parkside Place to Ashford-Dunwoody Road, and on Parkside Place for traffic calming and to accommodate landscape and pedestrian and bicycle improvements.
The Hilton Garden Inn driveway on the Lake Hearn Drive one-way portion will be modified to restrict exiting traffic to turning movements in one direction only, to improve safety.
To promote bicycle use, a 4-foot-wide bike lane will be added to Perimeter Summit Parkway from Lake Hearn Drive to Ashford-Dunwoody Road and “share the road” signs will be added to Lake Hearn Drive and Parkside Place.
Traffic signals will be upgraded to mast arm-type installations at all signaled intersections. Intersections will be raised at Lake Hearn Drive and Parkside Place and at Lake Hearn Drive and the Cox Communications Inc. driveway to help reduce vehicle speed on Lake Hearn Drive.
Funding is coming from two primary sources. The Atlanta Regional Commission awarded a $3.1 million Livable Centers Initiative Transportation Grant to PCID, while Gov. Nathan Deal announced June 21 the award of a $1 million Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank grant to the PCID for Lake Hearn Drive and Peachtree-Dunwoody Road streetscape and intersection improvements.
This is in addition to $800,000 received in the first round of grant awards in 2010 to help with design and engineering for Georgia’s first Diverging Diamond Interchange at I-285 and Ashford-Dunwoody Road.
“The project also will make transit more accessible and encourage increased use of the nearby Medical Center and Dunwoody MARTA stations,” said Chuck Altimari, United Parcel Service Inc. vice president and chairman of the Fulton Perimeter CID, location of the project.
Besides roadway and signal improvements, one of the main goals for the project is to improve cycling and walking opportunities for residents and workers in the area.
“There are very limited sidewalks now — less than 20 percent — but with the new plan there will be 80 percent [of street sides], possibly more than 90 percent, of sidewalks,” said Dean Patterson, vice president of Behringer Harvard, a commercial real estate company based in Addison, Texas.
Behringer Harvard REIT I owns Ashford Perimeter, a six-story, 288,000-square-foot office building constructed in 1983. He said the project will “create better access” for Ashford Perimeter tenants and others. A large portion of Patterson’s building is vacant as Behringer Harvard tries “to attract a large tenant,” according to Patterson; improved access is an important selling point.
David Purcell, chief operating officer of PCID, acknowledged the money allotted through the grants may not be enough to cover all the improvements that might eventually be included.
“The amount of funds from the DOT will most likely not cover all the features,” Purcell said. “The city may make improvements and the CID may make improvements but ‘improvements’ mean money. We may all pay for them. We’re all partners in this.”
Purcell said improvements in technology in recent years will even improve the improvements; he pointed to better software that more efficiently manages traffic signal coordination and to traffic cameras, which at one time could swivel only 45 degrees but can now make full circles.
Tree plantings and other landscaping efforts will make the thoroughfares more pleasing to drive, bike or walk. The south side frontage of Perimeter Summit Parkway from Lake Hearn Drive to Parkside Place will remain in a natural state to preserve mature vegetation and due to the steep topography.
Seating benches, single-trunk flowering trees, general landscaping, lighting and trash receptacles and special brick paving are expected to contribute to the area’s aesthetic appeal and character.