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Road construction in Decatur to begin soon, ending the Church Street cycle track work

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Road construction in Decatur to begin soon, ending the Church Street cycle track work

Church Street cycle track in the city of Decatur on Thursday, June 15, 2023. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Decatur, GA — Road construction and repaving on Church Street and Commerce Drive in Decatur is expected to begin next week, weather permitting.

The work will include Commerce Drive from its intersection with Clairemont Avenue to its intersection with Church Street, as well as Church Street from Commerce Drive to Forkner Drive, according to a city website. The paving work is the last major phase of the Church Street cycle track project.

Drivers can expect lane closures and traffic disruptions during the construction. Motorists are encouraged to use alternatives to Church Street during construction. The work hours will be on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and is anticipated to take up to 60 days.

Construction will be done in limited sections to make sure the repair area is drivable at the end of each day. Until repairs and resurfacing are finished, sections of the roadway will remain rough and uneven. Drivers are encouraged to travel slowly and carefully and be mindful of roadway conditions, pedestrians, contractors, and work crews, according to the city website.

Although the paving work is still to be completed, the cycle track part of the project has been finished.

The cycle track project includes intersection improvements at Clairemont Avenue and Commerce Drive, as well as Church Street and Commerce Drive to reduce crossing distances and remove vehicle slip lanes. Church Street has been permanently reduced to two lanes, wider sidewalks have been added, and a one-way cycle track, also known as a protected bike lane, has been added on each side of Commerce Drive and Church Street. New trees have been planted along Church Street as well.

A substantial amount of stormwater infrastructure was also installed at the intersection of Clairemont Avenue and Commerce Drive. On-street parking on Church Street was removed as part of the project.

“Most of the on-street parking will be removed when the cycle track is built on Church Street,” Capital Projects Manager Hugh Saxon previously said. “There will be [three to four] permanent spaces located right at Glenlake Pool and about 10 permanent spaces just south of Geneva Street, but the cycle track generally will take up the area now used for on-street parking.”

The bike and pedestrian improvements on Church Street complete the final segment of dedicated bike travel lanes from the PATH Stone Mountain trail.

Church Street has not been resurfaced since it was built, Saxon previously told Decaturish.

“It was widened from a two-lane to a four-lane street about 40 years ago,” Saxon said. “Now, we’re narrowing it back down to two lanes. It has not been repaved in that period, and it is in very poor condition. There are a lot of cracks. Our engineering staff thinks it’s at the end of its service life.”

He added that this will be a significant and long-lasting improvement to the road.

“The alternative would be minor repairs and resurfacing, and the cracks start showing up again in a year. This is about a 20-year life on a repair like we’re proposing,” Saxon said.

Commerce Drive, between Clairemont and Church, will be five lanes once the milling, repaving, and striping are complete. The lanes will be narrowed from about 13 feet to 10 feet as the cycle track has been added on both sides of the street.

Southbound on Clairemont Avenue, the two left turn lanes remain and there will be a right turn lane, although it is no longer a slip lane.

The Decatur City Commission approved the project plans in May 2021. But the project began about 11 years ago. The city went through various rounds of funding options with the Georgia Department of Transportation. When the city had the plans completed a few years ago, it took them the remaining time to obtain all the necessary construction easements, Saxon said at the May 3, 2021, city commission meeting.

Lewallen Construction Company is the general contractor for the over $4 million project and has built the Commerce Drive segment connecting Clairemont with Church. Most of the funding is from grants through the Atlanta Regional Commission and the Georgia Department of Transportation.

“Our community transportation plan focuses on active transportation, which is providing transportation facilities like cycle tracks and sidewalks that allow people to get around Decatur without using their car,” Saxon said.

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