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West Howard Avenue planters will be replaced with a permanent traffic-calming solution

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West Howard Avenue planters will be replaced with a permanent traffic-calming solution

W. Howard Ave. planters.

Decatur, GA — West Howard Avenue will eventually have a new permanent traffic-calming solution. The Decatur City Commission recently increased the budget for the Atlanta Avenue railroad crossing improvement project for master planning and design. Part of that project will replace the planters with a different element that will slow traffic.

The scope of the project is also expanding to include permanent traffic-calming, bicycle and pedestrian safety, and landscape improvements to replace the planters on West Howard Avenue. This will add a major new streetscape and bike and pedestrian element to the project, Deputy City Manager Hugh Saxon wrote in a memo.

The city doesn’t have a design for the project yet, and city staff hope to build upon options that were considered in December 2020.

“Hopefully we can narrow those down and keep sort of the best features of what is there now with a more permanent choice instead of the planters,” Saxon said at the Sept. 27 City Commission meeting.

The original idea provided for a crossing in the same general area as the existing crossing. The project will now include relocating the crossing and restoring the old crossing location to a park-like setting. Additional traffic signal improvements will be added as well for the Olympic Place intersection, Saxon wrote in a memo.

Mayor Patti Garrett said during the City Commission meeting that the planters were put in as a temporary solution, but have stuck around.

“They serve the purpose of narrowing the lane and slowing down the traffic and were very much supported by the neighborhood in terms of trying to, before we could make permanent changes to that intersection and crossing, at least the traffic was having to travel a little more slowly down that particular corridor,” Garrett said.

The “Reimagine West Howard” upgrades began in July 2018 as the city worked to improve safety, access and comfort for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists along West Howard Avenue. The modifications extended from the city limits near Paden Circle to Commerce Drive.

The project included:

– Reducing this section of West Howard Avenue from four lanes to two with dedication turn lanes at key intersections

– Additional cycling opportunities, allowing the PATH Trail to better serve pedestrians, recreational users and the disabled

– New midblock pedestrian crossings at Drexel Avenue, Adair Street and Greenwood Circle

– An adjusted pedestrian crosswalk at Atlanta Avenue

The city placed 125 rectangular and 72 square planters along the road in order to reduce the number of lanes.

The planters were installed to, “create a clearly defined buffer between new travel lanes and the PATH Stone Mountain trail,” Assistant City Manager David Junger previously said.

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