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Downtown’s Baker Street set to undergo controversial two-way conversion

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Opponents worry the change, meant to calm traffic, could make the road more dangerous

a picture of baker street
Some say the project could further congest Baker Street.
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Central Atlanta Progress’s push to convert a downtown one-way street into a two-way thoroughfare has made serious headway in recent days—and ignited choruses for and against the initiative.

The Atlanta City Council approved legislation last week that paves the way for six blocks of Baker Street—from Piedmont Avenue to Centennial Olympic Park Drive—to be re-striped as a two-way road.

Running only westward for now, Baker Street is a popular channel that allows drivers to access some of downtown’s most high-traffic attractions, such as Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia World Congress Center, and Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

According to the legislation, the conversion would “reduce congestion on Ivan Allen, Jr. Boulevard and will improve east-west mobility between the activity centers surrounding Centennial Olympic Park, Peachtree Street, and their connections to/from the downtown I-75/85 Connector to the east.”

But CAP’s plan hasn’t exactly been met with open arms.

Some downtown residents and business owners claim the potentially $2.7 million project—the city would cover $1.3 million, with CAP picking up the rest—could totally clog the high-traffic corridor.

According to a recent column published by Saporta Report, three prominent downtown hotels—the Hilton, Hyatt, and Marriott Marquis—penned a joint letter urging officials to take more time to study the conversion’s potential impact.

“Altering Baker Street could have unintended consequences and negatively affect our employees, business, congestion, and the visitors who support Atlanta’s economy.

“It is also our understanding there are multiple studies reaching different conclusions about the impact of altering Baker Street traffic.”

Opponents of the plan also point out that switching Baker Street to a two-way will create dozens of more opportunities for motorists to make left turns across oncoming traffic, which could yield more accidents.

Others worry that delivery trucks would be able to stop on both sides of the street, forcing traffic to be funneled down narrow passages.

The Atlanta Downtown Improvement District is charged with designing, permitting, and construction of the project.

A measure will be put in place to keep tabs on the project’s impact.

Per the legislation, six months after the conversion is completed, “Crash data, including injuries and deaths, and vehicle count data for Baker Street, John Portman Boulevard, Piedmont Avenue, Ivan Allen, Jr. Boulevard, and Centennial Olympic Park Drive shall be submitted to the [Atlanta City Council] Transportation Committee.”

That data will then be compiled quarterly and compared to previous numbers.