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Decatur plans meeting to discuss plans to improve West Howard Avenue

Crime and public safety slideshow

Decatur plans meeting to discuss plans to improve West Howard Avenue

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Photo provided by the city of Decatur

The city of Decatur is planning a meeting to discuss a proposal to improve safety on West Howard avenue.

The corridor has a traffic count of 12,500 cars per day and is four lanes. The proposal would reduce it to two lanes using “semi-permanent” materials.

An information meeting about the project will be held on Thursday,  Oct. 12, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Atlanta Friends Meeting, 701 West Howard Ave.

The plan will address concerns about pedestrian and bicycle safety on the road from Paden Circle to North McDonough Street. The city’s Community Transportation Plan identified West Howard Avenue as a city corridor.  The goal is to have more people walking and biking along the PATH trail, Atlanta Avenue, Howard Avenue and College Avenue. The improvements are also intended to “increase the frequency of people walking to and from downtown and neighborhoods to the south and southwest of downtown.”

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City Commissioner Tony Powers said if a sales tax for road construction is approved by voters in November, the city would have additional money for a permanent upgrade. According to records provided by the city, Decatur is anticipating receiving $20.5 million from the sales tax if it passes and would dedicate $6 million to improving the Atlanta Avenue, West Howard Avenue and College Avenue intersection.

In the meantime, the city will have to make do with the funding it has.

City Manager Peggy Merriss provided a copy of a recent presentation given to the City Commission about the project and said the city plans to move forward Option B-2, which includes a two-way separated bike lane.

That option would:

– Convert existing westbound lanes to one westbound and one eastbound

– Repurpose existing eastbound lanes as two-way separated bike lane with large buffer

– Convert the existing path to an 8 ft sidewalk

Here is the full presentation:

Reimagine Howard Work Session (1)

The “small scale, short-term interventions” using “semi-permanent materials” will make the project more cost efficient and it will have a shorter construction timeline, according to the presentation.

During a Sept. 5 work session, Senior Engineer Michelle Hirose told the Commission that the project has a “limited funding source” and the city has an “immediate need.”

“So staff thought about it and came up with this idea of doing a semi-permanent solution using semi-permanent materials to really create some long-term changes,” she said. “We thought about implementing it quicker than traditional construction and, because we’re maintaining our existing infrastructure, then we could really be cost-efficient with our dollars.”

Merriss said the current budget for the project is $150,000 for implementation.

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