Road work – Intersection improvements planned

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt March 18, 2014
A conceptual drawing of improvements to Church Street, published in 2012. Source: City of Decatur, GA

A conceptual drawing of improvements to Church Street, published in 2012. Source: City of Decatur, GA

The city of Decatur is asking for public input on plans that would overhaul the intersections of Commerce Drive with Clairemont Avenue and Church Street.

If fully realized, Church could become a two-lane road all the way up to the city limits. The improvements are expected to cost $4 million, and will be funded primarily with transportation grants. Discussions about the project have been ongoing for several years, and Deputy City Manager Hugh Saxon said the project is still in the preliminary planning stages.

There will be a workshop on those improvements Wednesday, March 19, at city hall, located at 509 North McDonough Street in downtown Decatur. The meeting begins at 6 pm and ends at 8 pm. Saxon said the improvements will “make it easier for pedestrians to cross” at the intersections and said there would also be additional bike facilities on Church Street.

“The project is based on Decatur’s 2008 Community Transportation Plan and is a project in the 2010 Strategic Plan,” a meeting announcement from the city says.

Information in a 2012 fact sheet on the project provides some additional details.

Proposed improvements to the Clairemont-Commerce intersection include:

– Removing the southbound right turn lane and sharing it with the through lane

– Removing the northbound right turn lane and sharing it with the through lane.

– Reduce the two east bound through lanes to one through lane.

– Remove the westbound left turn lane and share it with the through lane.

– Using smaller radii at all four corners of the intersection to reduce the length of the pedestrian crossing to reduce exposure of pedestrians to traffic.

– Reducing pedestrian crossing times by 40 percent.

– Narrowing travel lane widths from 12 to 11 feet.

– Widening sidewalks.

Improvements to the Church Street and Commerce Drive intersection include:

– Removing one through lane.

– Using smaller radii at all four corners of the intersection to reduce the length of the pedestrian crossing to reduce exposure of pedestrians to traffic.

– Widening sidewalks.

Lately there’s been more activity related to the city’s streetscape projects. The city plans to move forward with $2 million worth of McDonough Street improvements that would narrow the road from four lanes to two. That’s expected to begin in June of 2015. A planned Oakhurst streetscape project that’s been discussed for several years is also finally getting off the ground.

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  • Chris Billingsley

    Thanks Danish and good to see you at tonight’s meeting.
    Where to start. First the positive: The proposed changes to Commerce, at least from Clairemont east to the old cemetery are not as bad as I feared. It appears that traffic will move through this area, more slowly than I favor but the so called improvements will not bring it to a standstill during most of the day (the reason, no bike lanes). And being a regular dog walker up Church to the square, I like the idea of narrowing the Commerce intersection. These improvements are also proposed for Commerce at Clairemont. I’m less supportive of the changes here but can live with it.
    The Church Street improvements are another matter. Now I’ve always been opposed to these improvements but seeing a stand alone visual of the changes convinces me that the project design team spent very little time actually watching traffic move on Church. In no particular order (except maybe the last concern should be first) and all being my own opinion: 1. The design is based on the flawed idea that bike transportation is equal to automobiles. Two lanes for automobiles and two equal lanes for bikes. No matter what surveys say about the transportation choices of Decatur citizens, we buy automobiles, not bikes, to get around. It is foolish to pretend or wish that we will stop using our vehicles. 2. This is wasteful spending. It may be true that most of the funding comes from outside sources (so far at least; wait until costs skyrocket when the bridge over the creek must be rebuilt) but consider the amount of money being spent to benefit a few bike riders. 3. In the same way that Republicans in Alaska were criticized for proposing “bridges to nowhere”, one of the bike paths doesn’t go anywhere, ending at the city limits. 4. There are no turning lanes for vehicles. Those turning right into Glenlake Park will slow traffic considerably but turning left will stop traffic up and down Church Street. For those of us who live on or off Church, with no other egress, our quality of life will be severely impacted. 5. More traffic will divert into the Great Lakes, Glendale, or Sycamore neighborhoods. And those parking spaces on Church that so many Glen Lake visitors use, you can kiss that goodbye and guess where people will park? You guessed it, in your neighborhood. And finally, 6. Church Street is a main artery to DeKalb Medical. What are emergency vehicles suppose to do when traffic on Church comes to a complete crawl, not just during rush hour but ALL DAY LONG!!! Whether dealing with an elderly patient from a senior apartment facility, or an injured athlete from Renfroe or DHS, time is of the essence.
    I am opposed to any bike path on Church Street but would be less opposed if the plan included only one lane, preferable on the west side of Church. If the Decatur elites won’t compromise on this, they should consider narrowing the west side bike lane and widening the east side lane to allow vehicular use in an emergency. In that way, an ambulance carrying your child or your parent will not get stuck with me, fuming in Church Street traffic.

    • Brad

      Per #5 above—the proposed sections show on-street parking, both sides. Bike Lanes are the end all/be all these days, and it’s hard to defend the four-lane-with-no-turn-lane road section anymore, it kills too many people (ahemnorthdecaturroadcough). At the least, have the bike lanes turn into shared lanes (14′) and provide center turn lanes at each signaled intersection, because not providing at least that is going to annoy everyone. But a turn lane isn’t needed at the Super 8.

      As far as a waste of money, the traffic engineering of auto access to blue line Marta stations was pretty dang moronic. Why we need five lanes to get to the East Lake Marta station, I got no idea. Of course, Marta AS DESIGNED was a waste of money too.

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