Q&A: What’s Decatur’s plan for traffic around Trinity apartments?

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt August 7, 2015
Rendering by ColeJenest & Stone

Rendering by ColeJenest & Stone

Developer Centro is currently in the process of constructing a mixed-use apartment project along East Trinity Place and East Howard Avenue.

The development, formerly known as Trinity Triangle but now called Arlo by the developer, has led to some traffic headaches during construction.

A reader, Ray Glier of Decatur, sent in this question …

The traffic crossing the railroad tracks at Candler has become unbearable during the day. It backs up and cars end up blocking the firehouse entrance.

This traffic jam does not all have to do with the construction on Trinity. Some of this traffic jam can be attributed to the city blocking off access to East Howard, the one-lane road behind the old Dairy Queen.

Parents could cross Candler and make a quick left over the tracks and get up toward the high school. Now, it all gets routed downtown.

What is the plan here? Very few pedestrians cross College at that point. If they are on that side of College, they use the Agnes Scott tunnel.

Has the developer made a deal with the city to take control of that stretch of East Howard for the developer’s own benefit?

The street needs to be restored. There is too much traffic. It’s a mess. Many residents agree with me.

– Ray Glier

Deputy City Manager Hugh Saxon provided the following response …

Howard Avenue was indeed closed to allow the Trinity Triangle construction and the City’s streetscape improvements to proceed while minimizing the impact from both projects on traffic along East Trinity Place and at Fire Station No. 1.

However, the permanent removal of the left turn from Candler onto East Howard just north the CSX rail line is the result of planning for the pedestrian safety improvements at the Candler rail crossing. The goal of this project is to make the railroad crossings at Candler and McDonough accessible and safe for pedestrians and bicyclists and to encourage persons who live in Winnona Park, the McDonough-Adams-Kings Highway community and other neighborhoods south of the CSX rail corridor to walk and bike into downtown Decatur. We believe that the proposed improvements will go a long way to achieving this goal.

The no left turn north of the Candler crossing is designed to keep vehicles which were turning west onto Howard from blocking northbound traffic trying to cross the CSX tracks. There also will be new pedestrian crosswalks on the east side of the East College intersection and just north of the CSX crossing (where crosswalks do not presently exist) connecting to the sidewalk along the old Depot property.

This project will also provide a gentler slope on the north side of both crossings providing an accessible path for persons in wheelchairs as well as a much safer route located outside the railroad crossing gates for pedestrians and bicyclists. Presently, pedestrians and bicyclists have to share the roadway at these crossings with vehicles.

While motorists would no longer have the old route at Candler to access Howard Avenue, they would be able to cross the tracks at McDonough Street and Atlanta Avenue.  Both crossings will include new traffic signals which will allow protected left turns on all legs of the 2 crossings.  This in itself will improve the flow of traffic at these intersections.  Signing and pavement marking plans are attached which illustrate proposed pedestrian and vehicular traffic at both crossings.

– Hugh Saxon

Deputy City Manager


He also attached the following documents …

009025SM01 009025SM02

Glier responded …

So the city of Decatur is going to try and force people to walk into downtown? They want people on the south side of Decatur to walk all the way up Candler and cross the tracks? They want people on 96-degree days that live on Kirk to walk to downtown? Or the people on Midway?

It’s poor planning. I have lived here 23 years. That left turn is not always blocked coming across the light. I made that turn all the time. There is a light there coming from downtown that holds up traffic and allows the traffic to turn left and get up to the high school. Howard Avenue is a relief valve to all the traffic and the city is taking a stupid step keeping it closed.

That left hand turn also benefits the people coming from south of Decatur into town. Are you trying to tell them, “Hey walk to downtown”?

What’s more, it has been rare to see people walking back over the tracks from right there. Many people walk through the Agnes Scott Tunnel to get back to the Winnona Park side.

People in wheelchairs use the other side of the street to come across College Avenue. You can’t lower the grade on that side where the turn is for them to roll up the hill and get across.

– Ray Glier

Correction: An earlier version of this story referred to West College. The author of the question asked that it be corrected to say East Howard, and the story has been updated with the correct information. 

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

View all posts by Dan Whisenhunt

  • Alex

    While I’m sure access to Howard is beneficial, I don’t think the city manager is saying “hey walk instead of drive.” I think he’s addressing a very unsafe and inaccessible intersection. I can only imagine anyone in a wheelchair facing the stairs at the Agnes Scott tunnel or oncoming traffic sharing a roadway with Candler/Trinity.

    Maybe the developer has a side road that can connect with E Howard a little ways farther north?

  • You live on Kirk? You work downtown? You drive to work? Have you considered buying a Segway?

  • Dave

    Great decision by the city to close the weird left on Howard and improve the crossing for Pedestrians. It is currently very scary to cross the RR at College and S Candler to go downtown. It was an impediment to get to downtown restaurants from the Winonna area, and often we would just decide to eat-in or drive.

  • Graybeard

    Glad to know Mr. Glier thinks those of us who live in Avondale/East Decatur are chopped liver. Guess we’re supposed to walk the extra 1/4 mile on 96 degree days to the tunnel, right?

  • Blackcatprowliii

    There needs to careful consideration regarding leaving the North Candler spur available to bicyclists. Some plans, like ones at Clairemont & Commerce, greatly increase the dangers to cyclists.

  • Marty

    Happy to see the exchange and discussion. Hugh provided a thoughtful response to Ray and I appreciate Ray taking the time to express his perspective.

    Is the Q&A a weekly post?

    • It’s not a regular feature, but I’d be happy to do it whenever we get a good question.

  • An American Patriot

    I’ve been commenting for some time about the traffic problems when the Trinity Triangle and the Callaway Project are built out. Traffic coming across the tracks all the way down Trinity will come to a standstill. Folks, this is going to be a problem and the COD needs to present another solution other than walking. A school on the Callaway property is a better use of this tract. Coupled with the DHS property, there’s more than enough room. Don’t make another DeVry mistake. That’s costing every homeowner in Decatur money.

  • Peripatetian

    The first part of the city’s response makes no sense (that Howard Avenue was closed to allow the Trinity Triangle construction and the City’s streetscape improvements to proceed while minimizing the impact from both projects on traffic along East Trinity Place and at Fire Station No. 1). How does closing one of two potential westbound routes “minimize” westbound traffic for the one remaining open? Does losing the East Howard option make drivers search for another westbound route – say North Candler and then Sycamore or Ponce? Surely not, if their destination is more convenient to East Trinity.

    And although streetscape improvements may eventually be part of the reason for the closure, all you have to do is walk the bike path to see that currently the sole reason for the closure is for the convenience of the developer. The street is now being used as a storage, staging, and access area for construction materials and equipment (and has been used that way for months). Not a streetscape-related improvement in sight.

    When the developer begins façade finishing work (window installation, brick-laying, painting etc.) on the East Trinity side of the project, you may also see a Trinity lane closed temporarily. At least that’s been the situation on Commerce, bordering the new apartments next to the Artisan, and on West Ponce, Ponce de Leon Place, and Montgomery, bordering the 315 West Ponce development. Construction companies seem to now use those mobile lifts – in place of scaffolding – for much of the façade work, so they need a level area to drive the lifts along the buildings. With the city’s requirement that these projects be built nearly to the street, construction crews need more than the space available only on the development site. And in Decatur’s current apartment building binge, developers appear to get whatever they want.

  • Marty

    Should Decatur put a limit on growth and development? AJC – August 8, 2015

    “Nevertheless, with five complexes including retail/restaurants opening over such a short span, traffic increases — possibly dramatic — and traffic-pattern shifts seem inescapable, though city staffers admit they aren’t quite sure what to expect. Similarly the effect on City Schools Decatur is a hard read.”

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