ATLANTA – Commuters are expressing their anger over losing a lane of Peachtree Street to a project where, at times, there are no workers present.
“It's sort of ground zero for the backup,” says Buckhead resident Kathy Knapp.
The Midtown Alliance is behind a project to refurbish the Peachtree Street bridge over I-85. The non-profit group is using private dollars to add new sidewalks, lighting, signage, and landscaping.
After hearing complaints, 11Alive’s Commuter Dude visited the work site during Thursday morning’s rush hour. One lane of southbound Peachtree Street was closed at the bridge, where there were orange barrels and one piece of heavy equipment. There were no workers present from 7:15 a.m., until approximately 8:30.
“I'm puzzled as to why you come out here and the traffic is backed up, this lane is closed off, and nobody's here to work,” says Knapp.
Buckhead resident Bert Light says he’s experienced a sharp increase in rush hour congestion since crews closed the lane.
“People are just enraged,” says Light. “We already survived the bridge collapse on I-85, now we have another bridge debacle.”
There was a day when the contractor mistakenly closed two lanes of Peachtree during part of the morning rush hour, sparking a tidal wave of anger among commuters. The Midtown Alliance says it was the result of a miscommunication, and the issue has been resolved.
Still, one lane of Peachtree remains closed.
Work to enhance the bridge was suspended during the 6 weeks when crews were rebuilding the collapsed section of I-85 nearby. Now that I-85 has reopened, GDOT has reinstated the permit that allows the contractor on the Peachtree Street bridge to close lanes in order to work day and night.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Midtown Alliance says one lane of Peachtree will remain closed around the clock, with times when activity may be idle as workers change shifts and move equipment.
Commuter Dude Jerry Carnes wanted to know why crews can't reopen the lanes during those idle, rush hour moments.
Midtown Alliance spokesperson Brian Carr told answered that the closure is, in part, to accommodate equipment and materials.
“Additional sections of steel tubing are slated to arrive to the site in the near term,” Carr wrote in a statement. “More construction equipment may be staged within the closed lane, and daytime welding activity will further escalate soon.”
Some commuters who've been caught in the backup aren't happy.
“People are getting frustrated, and it shows,” says Light.
The project was supposed to end in April, but the delay caused by the I-85 bridge collapse has the Midtown Alliance unsure of a completion date.
At Commuter Dude’s request, GDOT is looking into the situation.
Here is the full statement from the Midtown Alliance:
"The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has reinstated Midtown Alliance’s lane closure permit to complete the Peachtree Street North Bridge project that will deliver pedestrian safety improvements, overhead lighting and other features. Midtown Alliance, GDOT and the City of Atlanta are in regular communication about this project.
To manage expectations, motorists traveling on Peachtree Street between Midtown and Buckhead may experience delays at peak periods over the next several weeks. While a single lane will remain closed around the clock throughout construction, double lane closures will be limited to 7pm to 5am. People traveling in the area can expect there to be intervals each day during morning and afternoon rush hour where construction activity may be idle, as workers change shifts and equipment is moved into position.
Throughout construction, motorists can expect that one lane will remain closed 24/7, in part to accommodate equipment and materials. Additional sections of steel tubing are slated to arrive to the site in the near term, more construction equipment may be staged within the closed lane, and daytime welding activity will further escalate soon.
Please know that Midtown Alliance's construction team is working expeditiously, with crews handling daytime and overnight shifts. And we are continuing to take steps to consolidate our work, including having much of the structural arch fabrication and preassembly happen offsite.
At the same time, travel patterns are changing and traffic congestion is expected to become lighter with the onset of summer. And just as we were doing before the work was suspended, Midtown Alliance and its agency partners are working together to identify any potential strategies that can help mitigate delays experienced in the corridor, including retiming traffic signals in the area."
Stay informed about this project at http://www.midtownatl.com/about/programs-and-projects/capital-improvements/peachtree-street-north-bridge