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Decatur City Commission to consider approving design plans for Atlanta Avenue, West Howard Avenue projects


Decatur City Commission to consider approving design plans for Atlanta Avenue, West Howard Avenue projects

The Atlanta Avenue railroad crossing. Photo provided by the city of Decatur.

Decatur, GA — The Decatur City Commission will meet on Monday, March 21 at 5 p.m. for an executive session followed by a work session on impact fees at 6:30 p.m. and a regular meeting at 7:30 p.m.

The city commission may approve the designs for the Atlanta Avenue railroad crossing and West Howard Avenue improvements. The board still has to give final approval regarding the plans, although the plans have preliminary approval from the Georgia Department of Transportation and CSX.

If the city commission approves the designs, the city hopes to go out for bid and begin construction in early 2023.

To access the meeting, follow these instructions: 

To view the meeting agenda, click here.

This meeting will be held in-person. Members of the public wishing to participate during either the “Public Comment” or “Requests and Petitions” portions of the meeting may attend the meeting in one of two ways:

1. Attend in-person by coming to Decatur City Hall, 509 N. McDonough St. A temperature check and wearing of a face covering are required for entry into the building.

2. Register in advance at https://zoom.us/j/98733667487. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. You may also participate by phone by calling (929) 205-6099 and entering the meeting ID (The 11-digit number shown in the Zoom registration link.)

NOTE – This meeting will utilize virtual meeting technology. We cannot guarantee it will operate as planned. If your participation must be a matter of public record, attend the meeting in person or email your comments to City Manager Andrea Arnold at [email protected] by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, March 21st.

Members of the public may also view the live broadcast of the Decatur City Commission meeting at https://www.decaturga.com/citycommission/page/streaming-video

The city has been planning for a new railroad crossing since 2018 and a summary of the civic engagement, findings, alternatives and recommendations for the project were presented to the city commission on Feb. 22, 2022.

In 2019, the city commission approved plans to move the railroad crossing west to be in line with Adair Street instead of Atlanta Avenue. The final plans detailed the additional measures that will improve pedestrian and cyclist safety at the new crossing, including dual separated multiuse paths to allow cyclists and pedestrians to cross the tracks away from cars, a pedestrian leading interval at all crosswalks, and lights that can be activated by the pedestrian button to prevent drivers from turning into crosswalks.

The plans also call for an additional traffic signal at Olympic Place and College Avenue, to address concerns of residents that they would not be able to safely exit that street with only a stop sign there.

The city commission increased the project budget from $400,000 to $800,000 for master planning and design in September 2021 to allow for permanent traffic-calming measures on West Howard Avenue that will replace the colorful, temporary planters.

The plans for improving West Howard Avenue include retaining the existing two lanes for vehicle traffic — one in each direction — but replacing the temporary planters with a permanent 4-foot planted buffer that would border a new bidirectional separated bike path.

The existing 10-foot wide multiuse path on the south side of the street would be separated from the dedicated bike lanes with a physical buffer. On the north side, an 8-foot section of existing pavement would be reserved for on-street parking in front of the sidewalk and another narrow buffer would separate the street parking from the sidewalk.

Construction of the new crossing at Adair Street, will include a ‘meandering’ of the roadway along West Howard Avenue, introducing slight curves along the planted buffer areas that will help signal to car drivers that they are on a residential shared street.

More information about the planned improvements to the railroad crossing can be found on the city website here.

In other business, the city commission will consider approving a land use designation change, rezoning and a conditional use permit for Smarties Academy. The city’s planning commission recommended approval of the academy’s requests.

The property at 465 Clairemont Avenue is currently zoned R-60 single-family residential, and Smarties is seeking to rezone to I-institutional to allow the childcare center to continue to operate at that location.

The property is the former site of The Common Table (previously known as The Lutheran Church of the Messiah), which has leased space in its campus to Smarties since 2012. Common Table ended its ministry in 2021.

Under Decatur’s zoning code, churches and schools are an allowed use in R-60 residential districts. But the daycare, operating on its own, would not be an allowed business type.

Writer Cathi Harris contributed to this article.

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