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Decatur City Commission approves contracts for phase two of South Columbia path

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Decatur City Commission approves contracts for phase two of South Columbia path

Decatur City Hall. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Decatur, GA — The Decatur City Commission at its April 3 meeting awarded two contracts for construction and construction administrative services for the mixed-use path planned for South Columbia Drive. 

The commission awarded a contract to Hasbun Construction for $537,523 for construction of phase two of the South Columbia Drive mixed-use path project, and establishing a project budget of $680,000. The commission also awarded a contract to AECOM Technical Services for $27,650 for construction administration services. 

The path will eventually extend from Talley Street Upper Elementary School to Katie Kerr Drive. Phase two of the project will go up to the first entrance of Legacy Park. 

“This mixed-use path will generally be a 10-foot wide concrete pedestrian and bicycle facility with a five-foot landscape buffer,” Deputy City Manager David Junger said. “It will create a safe walking route to Legacy Park and eliminate a gap in the existing sidewalk system.” 

The city commission approved the project design in May 2019 for a mixed-use path on South Columbia Drive to connect Talley Street Upper Elementary School, Legacy Park and the East Decatur Greenway.

Phase one of the project was built in 2020 where the Talley Elementary School playground fronts onto South Columbia Drive. Phase two will begin where phase one ended, at the maintenance driveway at Talley Elementary. It will extend to the first driveway at Legacy Park. 

“Constructing this path will require the curb line to be shifted, which will narrow South Columbia Drive and ultimately eliminate a turn lane at the Derrydown Way intersection,” Junger said. 

In 2019, the city evaluated the viability of removing the left turn lane at the intersection due to limited right of way, then Project Manager Courtney Frisch wrote in a memo.

“A traffic warrants analysis was conducted by Gray Calhoun and Associates (GCA), the city’s traffic signal consultant, to determine the necessity of the left turn lanes,” the memo stated. “The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) policy for a left turn lane requires peak hour left turn volumes of at least 125 vehicles per hour for left turn lanes. It was determined that the current turning movement volumes (a maximum of 13 turning vehicles during the PM peak) do not meet the criteria for left turns, allowing removal of the lanes as a viable option. Removing the left turn lanes enables the path design concepts to be kept completely within the existing right of way.”

The traffic light at the intersection of South Columbia Drive and Derrydown Way will be adjusted to accommodate the new lane alignments and the asphalt will be regraded to improve stormwater drainage, Junger added. 

To construct the project, the city needs to obtain five temporary construction easements where grading could extend outside the city right of way. The city has received four and is waiting on the final easement. 

“The project was designed with the intent of all of those improvements being within the right of way, but because of the grade at a few of the properties, it would be necessary to grade back outside of the right of way,” Junger said. “Some of the driveways need to be regraded to align with the path and then ultimately to the street.”

When the project is finished, the areas would be restored. Should the city not be able to get the final easement, the project bid included an alternative to remove the section of the path that cannot be constructed, but it could be finished separately once the easement is obtained. 

“Having said that, there will be limited construction across the frontage of that right of way because we are bringing that section where the curb line will come into the street and narrow the roadway, so that would be built,” Junger said. “It’s just the rest of the mixed use path behind it couldn’t be built because of the grading issues.”

If the property owner doesn’t provide that easement to the city, there is the potential that there would be a gap in the sidewalk because the property owner would not be on board with the public benefit of a sidewalk, City Manager Andrea Arnold said. 

Mayor Pro Tem Tony Powers wondered how quickly the path could be completed, as other projects are underway to activate Legacy Park. Junger said most of it could be done this year.

“I think we can have a more refined design,” Junger said. “There are some grade issues at the entrance to Legacy Park that we would need to figure out how we want that multiuse trail to go across the front of the property.”

The southernmost portion of the project, closer to Katie Kerr Drive, will be part of the Decatur Housing Authority’s south housing village project. That construction would happen over the next two-four years, Arnold added.

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