Could Cityhood Be the Answer to Improving Buford Highway?

A PBS special points to major concerns on Buford Highway.

Buford Highway has been dubbed one of Georgia's most dangerous thoroughfares, according to a PBS special on dangerous crossings. With few sidewalks and street lights helping pedestrians navigate the busy stretch of road, Buford Highway has been the culprit in many fatalities over the years.

Home to much of Brookhaven's commercial district and apartment living, the area is in need of additional crosswalks for pedestrians, according to PEDS, a non-profit organization that advocates for a more pedestrian friendly Atlanta.

With cityhood on the table, could Buford Highway - at least the stretch of corridor that falls within the proposed city boundaries - finally get some of the attention it needs? What are your thoughts about improving Buford Highway? Tell us in comments then start or join the conversation on Facebook.

HamBurger April 14, 2012 at 03:21 AM
The PBS special is not completely accurate. The danger associated with Buford Highway, for the most part, is that the current pedestrian traffic completely ignores traffic signals at cross walks and using care when crossing the highway in general. There have been plans for approximately seven years now to create pedestrian cross walks and sidewalks and these upgrades really should have been made a few years ago. Currently, the DOT is acquiring right-of-way for improvements. The plans I saw were limited and the question is will there be a concrete median down Buford Highway or simply occasional islands for appropriate pedestrian crossings. It will make a difference in the revitalization of the Buford Highway corridor. The real question is will the pedestrian traffic utilize these improvements once they are in place? Will they start obeying traffic signals at crosswalks? Making the road safe is one thing, having pedestrians observe the rules is another. Those hamburgers were simply wonderful!
Kevin G Hughley April 14, 2012 at 11:37 AM
City hood will not be the answer to. Buford Higheay because first it requires a plan that involves a plan that includeds the community. Second it requires major funding that will deal with the disconnect of the policy makers and the community. Third it requires the political will of elected leaders with this deverse community to understand the needs of the various community. Kevin G Hughley,, President of Brookhaven Chamblee Home Owners and Neighborhood Business Alliance
John McGrew April 14, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Crosswalks won't work, in this town anyway. On a daily basis, I dodge jaywalkers who won't bother walking 50 feet to a crosswalk, much less a tenth of a mile or more. But they should at least add decent sidewalks. The urban planning crowd has this fantasy of turning everywhere into something like Village Place, where everyone lives, works and recreates without the need for transportation, but that's not going to happen either. The people living along Buford Highway are living along Buford Highway because they can't afford to live anywhere nicer or safer. They could plow every complex along that stretch and replace them with Village Places, and the problem will just move elsewhere because the undocumenteds or people making minimum wage can't afford trendy quarter-million dollar condos and those aren't the places where most of the low wage jobs are anyway. So in the meantime I'll just continue to avoid driving on Buford Highway like I always have. It's like driving in a real-life version of "Frogger".
HamBurger April 14, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Mr. John, I agree with you about the crosswalks being ignored. As I travel from the Oglethorpe area heading to Buckhead and back I observe pedestrian traffic crossing Peachtree Road between North Druid Hills and Dresden to MARTA or McDonald’s with regularity. People crossing six lanes of heavy traffic and placing themselves and the motoring public in danger simply because they refuse to walk a few feet. I feel for those folks making the left turn on to North Druid Hills. Crosswalks in place, sidewalks in place, pedestrian signals in place (recently upgraded I might add), and a fair amount of people ignore them. Urban planning is one thing, common sense is completely another. Hey! Don’t double grind that round roast, I’m not old enough for baby food hamburgers yet!
Larry Danese April 15, 2012 at 03:08 AM
Cities lack the financial resources to do much in the way of measurable improvement - if we could even agree on what improvements should be made. It is not exactly safe to be in a crosswalk. The one thing we can't do is install a concrete divider. That killed businesses on Memorial Drive. I would like to see us continue to work to get sidewalks on both sides, crosswalks at intersections and bus stops and occasional islands in the center lane to provide "refruge" using incremental funding as we find it. Not an easy problem, because, as John points out, we are missing the clout.
Thomas Porter April 15, 2012 at 03:32 PM
As perhaps a lone opinion, I really love Buford Highway the way it is, it is slightly seedy, culturally rich fabric of small scale mostly single-owner shops and services. While I would not be so naive as to not advocate better safety via sidewalks/crosswalks I fear that they will begin the death knell for the highway as it exists today and whose future may end up being TGI Fridays, Targets and Walgreens. If that happens, we will all lose a great deal of culturally rich shopping & experiences.
Greg Trinkle April 15, 2012 at 10:04 PM
I agree there is a problem. But I also agree just putting in sidewalks won't fix the issue. There are large expanse where people will still refuse to walk to the next crosswalk. Overdue it, and you will have a traffic mess. And with the new city down to approximately $150k surplus, don't see the new city being the answer.
John McGrew April 17, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Shhhhh! I think the ugly secret amongst many in the "planning" community is that they really don't care for the "slightly seedy, culturally rich fabric of small scale mostly single-owner shops and services", and would prefer something more "conforming".
Jennie May 03, 2012 at 01:53 PM
If I had to walk 1/2 a mile to use a crosswalk, I probably wouldn't use them either.
Carl Childers May 03, 2012 at 07:40 PM
m May 03, 2012 at 08:39 PM
it can and will take time. Lets talk about taxes. Your current Dekalb tax bill is three parts: Schools, General Fund, Special Services fund (SSD = City Services for unincorportated Dekalb areas: police/fire/planning/trash/code enforcement). Your new tax bill if Brookhaven does and should pass = Schools, Dekalb General Fund, and Brookhaven City. Dekalb county cannot move General fund money to fund SSD services in other parts of unincorporated Dekalb – it’s against the law. If they raise taxes it will be for the general fund, or schools. The real untold truth is control Over Zoning, Sidewalk repair and installation, Street Resurfacing, Sign regulations will be controled by the City. So if you like county fair style government like Dekalb or you want to keep you tax dollars local, for local improvements this is a no brainer. Think Code Enforement, Police Enforcement, Zoning Enforement sign ordinances etc!
m May 03, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Not creating a city = Status Quo. I guess Mr. Childers likes living in a low class strip mall!
m May 03, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Also: a good local plan does not ignore the minority communities, as it currently has. 1000 low income apartments is no answer to a sustainable community. It's call poor planning and caving to apartment developers. You can be bohemian like little 5 points but not be a cess pool of signs and poor design standrads as is bford highway. Furthermore, mixed-use and mixed-income is the only future to revitizing Buford Highway. It does not have to be one way or the other. Village place, not. But Deklab is doing nothing there, and has done nothing about Buford highway safety either. Go Brookhaven! think about local control of tax dollars = instead of shifting them to Stonecrest Mall for more improvements!
Kim Gokce May 19, 2012 at 02:06 AM
I'm a contrarian on the pedestrian "issue" of Buford Hwy. The "issue" of pedestrians on Buford Hwy is that there are so many. No where within 5-10 miles has so many pedestrians. While most see them as a nuisance, I see it as a thriving human activities. I watch the paleteros (men with ice carts), the women with strollers, workers waiting on MARTA and Georgia Bus Lines, children waiting for the school bus or walking to the convenience store or dollar store and it reminds me of my childhood. We actually walked around our community back in the dark ages and I love seeing this activity again as an adult. As far as the "blighted" apartments that are chose by those with no choice, I think this is over generalizing and shows a lack of street level knowledge of Buford Hwy housing stock - there are MANY very nice apartment complexes mixed in with those that are truly dilapidated. Just as there is no "one Buford Hwy," there is no "One Solution." We really ought to focus on specifics rather than bromides. Then and only then will we see progress as we all would like.


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