Atlanta officials say DeKalb Avenue resurfacing will be done by fall of 2023DeKalb Avenue. Photo by Dean Hesse.
Atlanta, GA — This past Thursday, March 9, the Atlanta Department of Transportation (ATLDOT) and the City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management (DWM) held a town hall to give Atlanta residents long-awaited updates on DeKalb Avenue and Krog Street improvements.
Officials held the meeting at Israel Baptist Church on Hosea L. Williams Drive.
Atlanta officials told the crowd that resurfacing of DeKalb Avenue will be completed by the fall of 2023.
The DeKalb Avenue Safety Improvements project comprises two phases to fix issues along DeKalb Avenue and in the Krog Street Tunnel.
Antwan Harris, construction outreach liaison for ATLDOT, kicked off the meeting with a few remarks and introductions of the project team.
“It’s almost done, believe it or not,” Harris said. “I know it doesn’t feel like it, but it is almost done, so that’s something to get excited about.”
But, town hall attendees didn’t seem too sold on that, especially regarding the resurfacing of DeKalb Avenue – many people’s biggest issue with the current state of the road.
One of the first questions asked was who from ATLDOT will stand up and offer a date for when resurfacing begins and remain accountable for it.
Marsha Anderson-Bomar, interim commissioner of ATLDOT before Soloman Caviness, stood up and said, “I’ll take the hit on this one.”
“The fall of 2023 is when we anticipate being done with the project. When we build a schedule like that, we do allow for some rainy days and for some things to go wrong,” Anderson-Bomar said. “You all understand, because you’ve been living it for a while, construction works as well as the conditions that are out there… If we have a particularly rainy spring or summer, that has the potential to delay us because we cannot pave when it’s raining or when the ground is wet. If anything changes, if we start doing work, and we find something has gone wrong, like an issue under the ground when we start milling things up, we will immediately notify you of that. But barring any of those unforeseen situations, we are anticipating that the work will be substantially complete by the end of September.”
Caviness piped up and said, “That means done.”
Another attendee asked, “What is the expected lifespan of the safety improvements plan?” specifically referring to the resurfacing.
Michael Word, ATLDOT construction manager, said that resurfacing will last between 15 and 20 years.
“There’s something called a pavement index, and we have an asset management category for pavement,” Caviness added. “So, we go through the process every couple of years. We go out and resurvey the entire city and present a list of pavement corridors that need to be redone. And we’ll go back and review that list for our pavement management system to look at the life cycle throughout.”
That led to another question from an attendee. “When was the last time that DeKalb Avenue was resurfaced?”
The 80s, said Brandi Peck, ATLDOT project manager of design.
“I will not say you are low on the priority list. There have been things that have postponed us from moving forward with resurfacing recently, as it relates to getting this project started. Initially, when I came on, we had anticipated resurfacing in 2019,” Peck said. “We’ve been trying to work through the modifications and the scope changes to get this resurfaced. So, it’s not that it’s a low priority.”
But, “it’s not that it’s a low priority” was met with pushback and frustration from the audience.
Anderson-Bomar quickly spoke up.
“We totally understand your frustration and absolutely agree with it. I hope you all remember, the department of transportation is three years old,” she said. “Prior to the DOT being formed, these matters were handled by others within the city. So, we’re playing catch up on some of the things that were deferred for a long period of time.”
When she was met with more pushback from attendees – people questioning why the anticipated resurfacing had been delayed for so long – the Atlanta Mayor’s Communications Director Bryan Thomas took the floor.
“As screwed up as this project has been, they want to do this right. At the end of the day, they don’t want to go in and lay something that we’re going to have to tear up within two years,” Thomas said. “November, this thing was supposed to break ground. We were supposed to get this construction out here. Why didn’t we do that? If you do that when it’s cold and when it’s wet, you’re going to be tearing it up in two years. You’re not getting 20.”
Q&A from attendees continued on, with many asking for specifics on the updates, like lights, medians, bike lanes, and more. For questions or concerns, you’re encouraged to reach out via email at [email protected].
DWM projected to finish Phase 1 of Krog Street improvements this week
Cesar Laureano, DWM project manager of construction, presented the project scope for Krog Street Tunnel Stormwater Drainage Improvements – to replace and enlarge the existing storm drain system to mitigate flooding in the Krog Street Tunnel when it rains.
Thus far, DWM has finished:
— Installation/repair of approximately 400 linear feet of stormwater drainage pipe
— Installation of inlets, catch basins, curbing, gutters, and sidewalks
— Resurfacing in project areas
The last part of Phase 1 is the final lining of approximately 170 linear feet of the storm pipe. Laureano said the crews will be working on it this week, with a projected completion by mid-March.
Phase 2 for Krog Street improvements will include:
— Trenchless pipe installation via hand-mined tunneling, which will hold the new storm drain piping and a new 16-inch water main replacing the existing structure
— Installation of new utility tunnel at DeKalb Avenue, connecting to Phase 1 work in Krog Street
— Installation of new storm piping and water line inside the tunnel. The current water line is close to 100 years old, according to Laureano.
Phase 2 can’t begin until DWM receives their CSX permit, which Laureano said they submitted an application for three months ago. That being said, the anticipated construction start date and completion of Phase 2 in Krog Street Tunnel is to be determined.
“We are expecting that the permit will be handed to us in the next two months,” Laureano said. “As soon as we start the project, we are expecting to run it for six months.”
DWM Commissioner Makita Browning spoke to the importance of the project, saying that DWM and ATLDOT are “eagerly looking forward to bringing it to completion.”
“One of the first tasks for me when Councilmember [Liliana] Bakhtiari came into office was this. She said to me, ‘Do something about Krog Street Tunnel and the drainage issues,’” Browning said. “So, we have really hunkered down to figure out the right solution, in collaboration with the department of transportation.”
The DeKalb Avenue project at a glance
Here’s what ATLDOT has completed so far:
— Sidewalk repairs
— ADA-compliant ramps installed
— Intersection traffic signal improvements at Krog Street, Oakdale Road, Rockyford Avenue, and Clifton Road
— Krog Street Tunnel LED lighting installed
And here is what’s to come:
— Activation of traffic signal upgrades
— Installation of two new pedestrian crossing areas with refuge islands and rectangular rapid flashing beacons along Degress Avenue and Boulevard Avenue
— Removal of reversible lane and associated signage
— Bicycle infrastructure and striping, including protected bicycle lanes
— Resurfacing from Jackson Street to Ridgecrest Road
— Installation of catch basin covers throughout the corridor
How to stay informed and in contact
As far as construction impacts go, ATLDOT and DWM both send out traffic advisories. To stay informed on road/lane closures, overnight work, and the different phases of the project, check out their respective websites and social channels.
You can access DeKalb Avenue project updates from ATLDOT here: https://atldot.atlantaga.gov/projects/dekalb-ave-safety-improvements.
Have further questions or concerns about this project? Reach out via email: [email protected].
Additionally, DWM Commissioner Makita Browning requested for residents to bring any drainage issues to her attention via email: [email protected]. She said that DWM has a host of projects to address drainage issues across the district.
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