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Preliminary work has started on Church Street pedestrian safety and cycle track project

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Preliminary work has started on Church Street pedestrian safety and cycle track project

A rendering of the Church Street cycle track. Image obtained via the city of Decatur

This story has been updated.

Decatur, GA — Preliminary work has begun on the pedestrian safety and cycle track project on Clairemont Avenue, Commerce Drive and Church Street, and construction will begin in the next few weeks.

The multimillion dollar project will take more than a year to complete.

Decatur’s Deputy City Manager Hugh Saxon said erosion control fencing is being installed and surveying is being completed for the project.

Construction equipment will eventually be present and drivers should remain aware. Pedestrians will generally be limited to using the sidewalks on one of the street. Vehicle traffic will be limited to two lanes and on-street parking will be eliminated for most of the project, according to the Decatur Makeover website.

At the Sept. 7 City Commission meeting, the board approved a change order of about $146,000 for the project. The cost increase was due to delays in starting the project. The city is working with Lewallen Construction on the cycle track, and the total contract amount has increased from about $2.75 million to about $2.89 million.

In May, the City Commission approved plans to permanently reduce the car traffic lanes on Church Street from four lanes to two lanes from the city limits on the north side to the intersection with Commerce Drive. On each side of Church Street, dedicated bike lanes will be added, as well as improved sidewalks that will connect with the pedestrian and cycle track improvements along Commerce Drive.

New trees will be planted along Church Street to help turn the corridor into a parkway, according to the project website.

The city has been working on this project for about 11 years, Saxon said at a City Commission meeting in May.

“We went through several rounds of funding options with the Georgia Department of Transportation, then when we had the plans finished three years ago, it took us the remaining time to obtain all of the necessary construction easements. It has been a challenge,” he said.

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The pedestrian and bicycle improvements will finish the final segment of dedicated bike travel lanes from the PATH Stone Mountain trail along the CSX corridor in central Decatur to the city limits on the north side of the city.

Additionally, the project includes pedestrian safety improvements at the intersections of Commerce Drive and Clairemont Avenue, and Commerce and Church Street. The city will get rid of the vehicle slip lanes at Clairemont Avenue and make the crossing distances shorter, making it easier for pedestrians to safely navigate the area and reduce distractions for drivers.

In March, Lewallen Construction submitted the lowest bid for the project. The Georgia Department of Transportation is providing most of the funding for the project, Saxon said at the Sept. 7 meeting.

“They were required as part of their bidding obligation to hold their prices for 60 days, and it actually took two and half times that long to get a notice to proceed from the [Georgia] Department of Transportation, which Is providing over 80% of the funding for this project,” Saxon previously said. “Lewallen said they couldn’t hold their prices for that long.”

The city received the notice to proceed with the project from GDOT on Aug. 19. According to Saxon, there is funding available for the increase and GDOT approved the request. The city’s share of the cost is about $30,000 of the total amount.

The work is expected to be completed in about 18 months.

Writer Cathi Harris contributed to this story.

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