Perimeter business network can assist

We appreciate Gov. Nathan Deal coming together with agencies of the state and schools, local police, legislators and local meteorologists to create a Severe Weather Warning Task Force. The Perimeter Community Improvement Districts (PCIDs) — a 4.2-square-mile area surrounding Perimeter Mall — would like to be part of that process to explore how we might best maximize our business network to make sure that we too have a more coordinated plan.

Central Perimeter, one of the Atlanta region’s largest office submarkets and employment centers with 123,000 daytime employees, is a significant factor in top-end transportation and traffic flow.

Commuters living outside the Perimeter area fill 110,000 of the jobs in Central Perimeter, according to the Atlanta Regional Commission. In addition, 52,000 residents in the Sandy Springs, Dunwoody and Brookhaven portion of the Perimeter market commute outside the area to work.

The highest concentration of employees is within the PCIDs. When these commuters hit the road at one time, we see major traffic jams regardless of the weather. So for some time, the PCIDs have been considering staggered work hours and how we pull that idea together with our business partners.

Through a coordinated effort with the state, the PCIDs can play a substantial role in reducing traffic congestion during future emergencies. The goal would be the development of a communications strategy and messaging system to businesses. We can transmit weather alerts to large employers in our area and encourage staggered employee release times.

The PCIDs already have a system in place to communicate information weekly from the Georgia Department of Transportation to Perimeter businesses and employees about weekend construction work that can impact them in the metro area. We also communicate lane closures for projects the PCIDs or cities in our area have underway, as well as improvements we are making to enhance traffic flow.

Other projects that the PCIDs have been advocating for could also reduce traffic during emergencies.

The availability of a managed lane on I-285 for bus rapid transit would be especially beneficial, and this is something that we have been urging. School buses could be allowed priority access to an expedited collector/distributor system along Ga. 400 that would let them move faster. The state has planned a four-lane system from Hammond Drive to north of Spalding Drive for construction in 2030.

As plans move forward to improve emergency preparedness, the PCIDs are anxious to assist however possible. We are closely attuned to the transportation needs of our employers and commuters and provide a natural vehicle to assist in the development of a business communications outreach that can help prevent chaos on our roadways in the future.

Yvonne Williams is president and CEO of the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts.