Sidewalks on the stretch of 14th Street between Peachtree and Piedmont Park are being ripped out, churning up mounds of red Georgian dirt.
A resident of the Mayfair Tower Condominiums at 199 14th St. asked Midtown Patch to explain what's happening.
In a word, cityscaping.
The construction is part of a multi-year, $75 million public improvement project called Midtown Cityscapes. According to the overseeing organization, Midtown Alliance, it will "improve sidewalk conditions and traffic flow, add lights and trees, create urban parks and green space, and promote pedestrian usage."
On 14th Street, contractors are widening sidewalks, installing new light poles and traffic signals, and burying phone lines.
Only main power transmission lines will hang above ground when the project is completed, allowing for a less obstructed view of the sky.
"That's why they call it beautification," said Tim Bridges, a foreman on the project with electrical contractor Brooks-Berry-Haynie (BBH). He and about a dozen workers were working on the south side of the street last week.
In all, Midtown Cityscapes affects 25 miles of Midtown streets and 10 major corridors, including Peachtree, West Peachtree, Spring, Juniper and 10th streets. The entire project is slated to finish in mid-2013, according to a timeline posted on the Midtown Alliance website.
Construction on 14th Street -- part of a $4.5 million package that includes another streetscape project in the works on Crescent Avenue -- will be completed to the entrance of Piedmont Park by Labor Day, according to Ginny Kennedy of Midtown Alliance. The stretch currently under construction began last August on Crescent Avenue, then moved to 14th Street by the Marriott Suites Midtown in September. Since then, workers have been moving their way east down 14th Street.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is footing a portion of the bill for the Midtown Cityscapes project. The Midtown Improvement District, city of Atlanta, Georgia Department of Transportation, Regional Transportation Authority and Atlanta Regional Commission also are providing money for the project. According to this map, Georgia received more than $6.7 billion in aide from the Recovery Act.
Other changes to 14th Street include a new bike lane, granite curbing, trash receptacles, bicycle racks, enhanced crosswalks and other pedestrian amenities.
"Although a number of existing trees will have to be removed on 14th Street due to utility conflicts and in order accommodate the geometric shifts in the roadway, over 70 new elm trees will be installed every 30 feet on either side of the roadway along the length of the project," said a July 29 letter to Midtown stakeholders.