Tech Parkway rerouted for renovation

Photo courtesy of Jason Gregory

The northbound lane of Tech Parkway above Means Street was closed early this October in order to make way for the construction of a new pedestrian and bicycle pathway along the western side of campus.

Greenery, such as trees and shrubbery, will line the respective tracks in order to create a park-like for pedestrians and students.

“The southbound lane of Tech Parkway is being converted to a bike and pedestrian corridor, while the northbound lane is being converted to two-way traffic with parallel parking on the northbound side,” said Jason Gregory, senior educational facilities planner in Capital Planning and Space Management.

Preliminary work for the Tech Parkway bike and pedestrian routes began in April 2016, while the current construction phase began on Oct. 3.

The southbound lane of Tech Parkway will remain operational until after Oct. 24, the date when two-lane traffic will be reestablished on the former northbound lane.

Separate traffic control plans will be utilized for certain high-traffic events, beginning with the Georgia Southern football game  on Oct. 15. Changes to traffic patterns for such events will be shared closer to the event in question.

Upon completion, the pedestrian walkway and two-lane bike path and will follow Tech Parkway and Luckie Street, extending from Northside Drive and  to Centennial Olympic Park.

“The current schedule for the Tech Parkway portion is for it to be complete by the middle of May 2017 with the remaining portion connecting to Centennial Olympic Park being completed by October 2017,” Gregory said.

The project is a collaboration between Tech and the PATH Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted to improving creating green trails for cyclists, pedestrians and skaters across the Atlanta area.

Tech and the PATH Foundation will each cover half of the cost to construct the Tech Parkway leg of the track.

“We began conversations with the PATH Foundation in January 2015, though we have been studying various design ideas for Tech Parkway for many years,” Gregory said.

In order to improve the Atlanta cyclist experience, the PATH Foundation also has plans to create a two-way bicycle route around half of Centennial Olympic Park and has partnered with the Georgia World Congress Center to build a bike depot between the Centennial Olympic Park and the Georgia Aquarium.

The bike route currently being constructed along Tech Parkway and Luckie Street would feed into the bike depot from the north.

These new developments fit into Cycle Atlanta, the City of Atlanta’s initiative to develop a larger network of bicycle routes by constructing roadside bicycle lanes or adding dedicated cycle tracks and multi-use paths that accommodate pedestrians.

According to its Phase 1.0 Study, the combined Cycle Atlanta network would more than double the amount of biking trails in Atlanta from the existing 30 miles to 61 miles.

Cycle Atlanta is part of the Connect Atlanta, the city-wide plan to improve transportation through developing transit, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and add 73 roads across the city.

Back on campus, Tech is also undertaking more projects to improve the cyclist experience on campus as part of its 2014 “Bicycle Master Plan.”

“We have several projects that are under design and/or construction addressing bike and pedestrian paths around campus,” Gregory said. “Atlantic Drive and the Ferst and Hemphill Intersection projects are two significant projects that are currently under construction that were influenced by the ‘Bicycle Master Plan.’”

Tech has been a silver-level bicycle friendly university of the League of American Bicyclists since 2012, and, as part of the Bicycle Master Plan, it is actively working toward one day attaining a gold- or platinum-level status.

The Bicycle Master Plan further prescribes other work on Tech’s campus to improve the safety and ease of use of certain road areas for bicycles.

Among these locations is the intersection of Sixth Street and Ferst Drive, which incorporates a dedicated and wider bike path; the project keeps in mind the impending opening of the West Campus Dining Commons in Fall 2017, which is expected to cause exceptional increases in traffic on West Campus.

Fifth Street and Ferst Drive also expected to see improvements in the expanse from Techwood Drive to Cherry Street near the baseball stadium.

The road will see restriping and bike boxes to more clearly indicate areas reserved for bikers.

According to a Parking and Transportation Services survey from 2015, approximately 43 percent of bike commuters enter campus through Tech Square on Fifth Street.

Other areas, such as the stretch of Means Street Northwest between Tech Parkway and Ferst Drive, will receive protected cycle tracks which will be raised above the regular road to ensure the safety of cyclists. Other alterations will include the removal of slip lanes to provide more controlled turns for bicyclists.