A bridge makes sense for the safety of pedestrians

Over in Peachtree Corners, Georgia there's been a bit of a brouhaha over a proposed pedestrian bridge that would go over the main thoroughfare that cuts through our little town. Of course something like this stirs up passions. Why? Well, we're talking about local politics and local politics means that we're talking about public dollars. So, whenever we're talking about public dollars, we're talking some drama. Drama comes with the territory, that's a fact. So, folks are passionate about the bridge and that's a good thing. Citizens of Peachtree Corners are asking tough questions about as they should ask. An honest 'gentlemanly' debate on this issue is healthy.

This is just my two cents, but a pedestrian bridge would be a great amenity for many reasons beyond aesthetics. I'm saying the bridge would be good for safety reasons. Now, there are plenty who would say that this project is a boondoggle and that crossing the road at the proposed bridge location or near it, is already safe. Indeed there are a few crosswalk options available on that stretch of road. By the way, that road would be Georgia  State Route 141 -- also known as Peachtree Parkway on the stretch that runs through the city. To me, Peachtree Parkway is a local 'Autobahn,' a four-lane highway with traffic lights. Okay, it's not an 'Autobahn,' it's an 'Authobahn' with nice landscaping. I'm not knocking the landscaping, trust me, it's nice and many worked hard on it, but it is like putting lipstick on a pig. Peachtree Parkway is quite dangerous. Indeed it's not as dangerous as many other roads in the metro area, but it's still challenging to deal with on a daily basis. When there isn't traffic on Peachtree Parkway, a majority of motorists speed through the area. When there is traffic, it's dangerous in other respects due to more inattentive drivers on the road holding conversations and texting. Trust me, as a pedestrian I witness this as I run by the motorists in rush hour. On one hand, I do sympathize with folks who use mobile phones in traffic, because honestly, gridlock is boring. Still, their minds are pre-occupied.  So, to me, the current crosswalks are not enough to protect pedestrians. Pedestrians are far better served by a bridge. The cynics would say that the bridge would only be used by the few who are using the shopping centers on each side of Peachtree Parkway. Yes, that is true, but locals would also use that bridge.

The bridge is in the planning stages at the moment. An open house was held which gave citizens the opportunity to look over the various bridge designs available. Some of the designs are a bit too grandiose for that area. In my opinion, an understated elegant design would look good in the area. I'm sure that there will be more discussion on the bridge including the funding and really, has anyone thought who that bridge will be named after once completed? The obvious guess is the Honorable State Representative Tom Rice who was instrumental in getting Peachtree Corners to become a city. Yes, that is putting the cart well before the horse.

Of course if one wishes to call our bridge plan a 'controversy,' it's nothing like what's been going on in Cobb County, Georgia. Over there, a new ballpark complex for the Atlanta Braves baseball team is quickly going up on a busy stretch of U.S. Highway 41 -- also known as Cobb Parkway on that stretch of the road. The already-congested area will usher in thousands into the complex on game days and maybe on most days. There will be no public transit options to get to the ballpark which is known as SunTrust Park. Parking at the ball-yard/complex will be limited so attendees will have to park down the road on Cobb Parkway. Perhaps there will be a bevy of shuttle buses to cart fans from the satellite parking lots to SunTrust Park or maybe attendees will 'brave it' and walk down Cobb Parkway, cross the freeway exits and entrances to get to the complex.

Obviously with SunTrust Park, this was a 'build it and they will come' plan. The whole idea came down to the fact that the baseball club wished to have a new stadium. The city of Atlanta didn't grant that wish, so the organization looked elsewhere to find someone who would make the Braves' dream come true. They looked at tickets sales and figured out that a majority of tickets sales were coming from Cobb County and neighboring northwest suburban Atlanta counties. Cobb County quickly obliged.  So, building SunTrust Park near the I-75/I-285 interchange on Cobb Parkway made perfect sense. Hey, it's business, but something funny happened on the way to building the ballpark: Human beings actually have to use it, just saying. A pedestrian bridge might someday come to that area which will make life far safer for Braves fans, but for now, those folks will have to find creative ways to get to the game. My suggestion is to skydive onto the field or helicopter ride into the complex.

To me, the Cobb County Braves project is a horrendous idea. The team will no longer be located in Atlanta so it's false advertising to even have the city name before the team name. Since I lived in that area over one quarter century ago for a few years, I know a thing or two about driving over there. In my opinion, the idea of having the ballpark in Cobb County is the worst idea since New Coke.

The Peachtree Corners pedestrian bridge proposal is nothing compared to the brouhaha happening over in Cobb County.


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