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


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

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

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He also attached the following documents …

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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.