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Crash data show numerous collisions at notorious intersection

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Crash data show numerous collisions at notorious intersection

A July 26 crash at North Decatur and Superior roads took out a homeowner's fence. Photo provided to Decaturish.
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This story has been updated.

Decatur, GA — A July 26 crash at North Decatur and Superior roads took out a homeowner’s fence and has renewed calls for something to be done at the notorious intersection.

New data released by Decatur Police show there have been 31 crashes at that intersection between Jan. 1, 2012, and Aug. 4, 2022. Police officers issued citations in 25 of the crashes. Seven of those crashes resulted in injuries. No deaths were reported between Jan. 1, 2012, and Aug. 4, 2022, but a recent article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said there have been “at least two deaths near it” since 2007.

Trevor Allen, the homeowner whose fence was toppled in the July 26 crash, warned city officials in an email that it’s only a matter of time before there’s another death due to a collision at North Decatur and Superior.

“I am writing to request immediate action be taken by the City of Decatur to protect my family, my property, and the public,” Allen wrote in a letter he forwarded to Decaturish. “I fear that if action is not taken, the next incident may result in injury or death to members of my family, neighbors, or others.”

According to Sgt. John Bender with the Decatur Police Department, on Tuesday, July 26, at 1:01 p.m., officers responded to a crash at the intersection.

“The accident investigation revealed a brown GMC Terrain was turning right from North Decatur Road onto North Superior Avenue,” Bender said. “A white Lincoln Navigator that was behind the GMC changed lanes improperly causing a black Land Rover Discovery to strike it. This pushed the Lincoln into the GMC, which was then pushed into a blue Toyota Corolla that was stopped on North Superior Avenue. After the Land Rover struck the Lincoln, it sideswiped a silver Chrysler Pacifica traveling the opposite direction on North Decatur Road. The Land Rover then left the roadway striking a fence and the side of a house at the intersection. Minor injuries were reported, however, no one involved was transported to an area hospital for treatment. The driver of the Lincoln was cited for failure to maintain lane.”

Allen said his family has witnessed numerous crashes at that intersection over the years.

“After each event, we become increasingly aware of how exposed and defenseless our property is to the high volume of traffic on North Decatur Road,” he wrote. “The property is especially vulnerable, as it is located at the bottom of a hill, where cars approaching the intersection from both directions on N Decatur Rd are at maximum speed going through the intersection. The property is recessed from road level, which in the event a driver loses control of their vehicle, the natural topography and curvature of the road routes the vehicle directly onto our property.”

Allen said one of the first responders who responded to the July 26 crash told him, “a guard rail would be appropriate to protect the property from the traffic on N Decatur Road.”

“This is a solution that could be implemented quickly and at low cost, comparatively to the more involved proposed improvements,” Allen wrote. “Another officer mentioned this intersection was the scene of the worst accident that he has personally witnessed in his career.”

Over the years, city leaders have shown a reluctance to make any improvements to the property. The intersection is complicated because most of North Decatur Road is in unincorporated DeKalb County. The AJC article notes that the city officials may be hesitant to make costly repairs because MARTA has plans to build a bus rapid transit or rail line through that corridor. But, as the article notes, those projects are often years or decades away from being completed.

Proposed improvements to the intersection were part of an updated Community Transportation Plan the City Commission adopted in 2018.

The transportation plan suggests widening North Decatur Road to create a left-turn lane. It calls for a new warning signal and signage, high visibility cross walks and a pedestrian refuge in the median on the west side of the intersection. Making the improvements could be a costly endeavor. It will require 12 feet of right of way and the relocation of the existing retaining wall on the northeast corner.

Decaturish contacted Mayor Pro Tem Tony Powers and Commissioner Lesa Mayer on Aug. 17 to discuss the crash data provided by Decatur Police. Neither was ready to discuss it, saying they wanted to study the data further before responding.

Mayor Patti Garrett said the city is exploring short-term solutions to address problems at the intersection, including installing a guardrail and clearing vegetation to give vehicles better visibility. Another idea, one she suggested, is working with DeKalb County to adjust the signals so all the lights turn red simultaneously before changing, giving everyone at the intersection enough time to walk across the street or clear the intersection before the light turns green again.

“We are working to make both some short and long-term improvements,” Mayor Garrett said.

Attempts to reach other commissioners were unsuccessful.

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