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Decatur City Commission approves construction contract for Commerce Drive cycle track

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Decatur City Commission approves construction contract for Commerce Drive cycle track

A rendering of the cycle track. Photo obtained via the city of Decatur.
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UPDATE: City Commissioners unanimously approved the contract at their Feb. 25 meeting. No one spoke against the project during public comments. Here is our earlier story … 

When the Decatur City Commission meets on Monday, Feb. 25, it will consider a construction contract for a protected bike lane, called a cycle track, on Commerce Drive.

The Feb. 25 City Commission meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. and will be held at City Hall, located at 509 North McDonough Street in Decatur. All meetings are open to the public. To see the full meeting agenda, click here.

The project under discussion at Monday’s meeting will start at North McDonough and West Trinity Place, go one block west to Commerce Drive and then all the way up to Clairemont Avenue. There will be a one-way cycle track on each side of the street.

The project will see lanes reduced from four lanes to three on one segment, between West Trinity Place and West Ponce de Leon, Deputy City Manager Hugh Saxon said.

“Commerce between Ponce and Clairemont will be very wide, so we were able to keep that as a four lane section with some on-street parking in front,” Saxon said.

Part of the track on the south side of West Trinity will be constructed by Cousins Properties, which is redeveloping the Callaway Building property on West Trinity Place.

City Commissioners will be asked to set a project budget of $2.1 million and award a $1.6 million contract to Lewallen Construction Company in Marietta.

The PATH Foundation will provide $700,000 toward the construction cost, and the rest will be paid by the city. Construction will take about a year to finish.

Saxon said this is not the only cycle track the city has planned. Decatur already has one on North McDonough Street, and Saxon said the city wants to build one on Church Street between Commerce Drive and the northern city limits and on Commerce Drive between Clairemont and Church.

“When all phases are complete, there will be protected bike lanes extending from the Stone Mountain Trail along the CSX rail corridor to the northern city limits on Church Street,” Saxon said in a memo to City Manager Andrea Arnold

Adding bike lanes to Commerce has been talked about for years, but in 2015 members of the cycling community rallied to have the city put a buffer between the traffic and the proposed bike lanes on Commerce. The commission revisited the plan and added the barrier.

City Commissioners agreed to move forward with the project in 2017, but controversy arose when people complained that they weren’t properly notified about the project.

Tonio Andrade, a cycling advocate who pushed the city to include the cycle track, said the goal of the project isn’t to make things more difficult for drivers.

“In fact, the real impetus is to make the streets safer and more pleasant for the city,” he said.

When the tracks are complete, it will help drivers by giving people an alternative to cars, he said. Students at Decatur High and Renfroe Middle could use the connected and protected network to ride their bikes to school, taking more cars off the road.

“I think it’s a cool plan and the great part of it is the network effect,” Andrade said. “Once that all comes online, I think we really could see some pretty effective alternate transport infrastructure. It could be a model for the southeast.”

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