For proponents of alternate transportation and livable cities, Midtown Alliance’s recent annual meeting at the Fox Theatre served a hot cornucopia of scrumptious, informational tidbits.

Chief among those status updates was the fact Midtown Alliance officials are optimistic three complete streets projects—one of them planned for more than a decade—will finally break ground in 2022, the first step in providing safer street routes for non-motorists across the booming district.

Back from a one-year, COVID-induced hiatus, the prominent business group’s perennial gala counted a crowd of more than 700 and a general theme of emerging stronger than ever from pandemic disruptions.

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Alongside Midtown Improvement District, Midtown Alliance is working on roughly 30 projects—with an estimated cost of $47 million—intended to improve the public’s experience and alternate modes of transportation. Planned changes span from the doorstep of SCAD Atlanta down to Emory University Hospital Midtown, and from the Connector to the edge of Piedmont Park.

The three complete streets projects set to begin in 2022—Juniper Street, Piedmont Avenue, and a conversion of 5th Street—are all fully funded and designed. Funding sources have included TSPLOST, Midtown CID, and Atlanta Regional Commission dollars, as well as federal and state funding.  

Specific outlooks for construction are less nailed down right now.

“Although things are happening at the city to help these projects move forward, we don’t have any firm timeline to share,” Ellie Hensley, Midtown Alliance spokesperson, wrote in an email.

Complete streets are defined as roadways with bike lanes and other traffic-calming measures designed to be safer and more welcoming to walkers, bicyclists, and all other users.

Here’s a quick rundown of what’s expected to make headway in Midtown this year, beginning with the project that’s been in planning purgatory the longest:

Juniper Street complete street

How a revised Juniper Street is planned to function at 7th Street in Midtown. Courtesy of Midtown Alliance

Scope: From 14th Street near Colony Square, down to Ponce de Leon Avenue

Blocks: 12

Protected lanes: Southbound, one-way cycletrack

Estimated cost: $8.7 million

Construction: Roughly 24 months, finishing sometime in 2024, per latest estimates.

An idea first hatched in 2010, the Juniper Street project would see non-drivers flowing southbound with car traffic in six to seven-foot bike lanes, protected by a system of raised planters and barriers at intersections. Vehicle lanes would be reduced to two, and dedicated parallel parking would be installed within a new buffer lane in places. Other additions would include plantings, bioswales, lighting, and street furniture.  

Midtown Alliance officials were once optimistic the Juniper Street project would be fully under construction by late 2016. Behind the scenes, however, a web of delays, dysfunction, and other messes involving the city’s procurement system reportedly were a significant hurdle.

Piedmont Avenue complete street

The potential look of Piedmont Avenue at 6th Street. Courtesy of Midtown Alliance

Scope: From Ponce de Leon Avenue, up to 15th Street at Piedmont Park

Miles: 1.1

Protected lanes: Northbound, one-way cycletrack

Estimated cost: $5.2 million

Construction: Following a bidding process, construction is expected to last through much of 2023.

The reworked corridor is designed to better accommodated walkers, bikers, and those with limited mobility, while providing a new gateway for non-motorists to the western side of Piedmont Park.

Most of it would replace the easternmost parking and travel lane on Piedmont Avenue with a one-way, northbound bike lane. On-street parking would be designated for the other side of the street. The city approved final construction documents last year.

Fifth Street complete street

Rendering of a planned 5th Street complete streets makeover. Courtesy of Midtown Alliance

Scope: From Williams Street near the Connector in Tech Square, east to Myrtle Street in Midtown’s residential Garden District. (It’ll cross both of the north-south complete streets detailed above.)

Distance: Roughly .6 miles

Protected lanes: Upgraded east-west bike lanes and signage

Estimated cost: $3 million

Construction: The city approved final construction plans late last year. After a bid process, work is expected to last through much of 2023.  

While 5th Street is considered one of Atlanta’s most popular multimodal thoroughfares, it could be better, and safer. Plans call for infill street trees to protect bike lanes, upgraded ADA ramps and crosswalks, better lighting, a new traffic signal at Williams Street, and a full repaving and re-striping of the street.

Find more details and images regarding all of the above here, while a map breakdown is provided in the gallery above. 

Below is a before/after look at what complete streets implementation could mean for the intersection of Piedmont Avenue and 7th Street, as one example: