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Repaving work to begin on Dec. 4 in Decatur; Residents raise concerns about Coventry Road traffic calming

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Repaving work to begin on Dec. 4 in Decatur; Residents raise concerns about Coventry Road traffic calming

A look at the project area for traffic-calming improvements to Coventry Road in Decatur. Photo courtesy of the city of Decatur.
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Decatur, GA — Repaving work will begin on Monday, Dec. 4, in Decatur as the city’s yearly repaving program gets underway.

Coventry Road is among the streets slated to be repaved and traffic-calming measures will be implemented as well. Residents raised some concerns about the work during the Decatur City Commission meeting on Nov. 27.

Magnum Paving will manage the paving and sidewalk repairs, scheduled to take place on the following streets:

– Glendale Avenue from Forkner Drive to Glenn Circle.

– West Dougherty Street from Adams Street to South McDonough Street

– Third Avenue from East Lake Drive to East Lake Drive

– Adair Street from West Ponce de Leon Avenue to West Howard Avenue

– Coventry Road from Scott Boulevard to the city limits

– South McDonough Street from Griffin Circle to the city limits

“All vehicles must be removed from any affected street during daylight hours, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., while work is being performed. Vehicles parked on the street during posted times are subject to towing,” a post on a city website states. “Some disruption of the area will occur and motorists should expect delays. Two-way traffic and access to driveways will be maintained during construction. Watch for directional signage and/or traffic flaggers when navigating these areas.”

The city commission approved the phase one traffic-calming plan for Coventry Road between Scott Boulevard and city limits. The city conducted a traffic study in December 2022 and found that there’s an average of 2,131 vehicle trips per day on Coventry Road. The city’s traffic-calming threshold is 1,000 vehicle trips per day for local, residential streets.

The street is about 26–28 feet wide. There are two speed humps currently on Coventry Road, and an undefined on-street parking layout is on both sides of the road.

“The existing cross-section is not wide enough to include separate bike facilities, pedestrian facilities, and on-street parking,” Assistant City Manager Cara Scharer said.

“Working to provide accessible residential streets that are safe, comfortable, and community-friendly while accommodating the needs of all users, the recommended phase one improvements propose the following improvements from the city limits to Scott Boulevard: lane narrowing, modification of one existing speed hump to a speed table, an additional raised crosswalk, realignment of the intersections at Chelsea Drive and Kathryn Avenue so they are perpendicular with Coventry Road, and on-street parking laid out in a chicane pattern, which is a lane shift or deflection technique to encourage drivers to slow down,” Scharer added.

A new sidewalk is also proposed on the north side of the street between the city limits and North Parkwood Road.

Scott Pendergrast, a resident of Chelsea Drive, said the city should defer action on the improvements to give the city more time to reach out to residents in the Chelsea Heights neighborhood.

“[The reconfiguration of the intersection] creates conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles, which are not there now,” Pendergrast said. “It narrows the intersection of what are already narrow streets.”

David Wasserman, a resident on Coventry Road, noted that there is an issue with speeding on Coventry Road. On-street parking is allowed on both sides of Coventry Road currently, and Wasserman encouraged the city to maintain all the on-street parking.

“The problem with the proposal…is that it’s not just traffic-calming, it’s, in fact, traffic enhancing,” Wasserman said. “Nobody would have problems with putting in more speed bumps, putting in traffic circles, stop signs, whatever traffic-calming entails, but eliminating parking on one side of the road allows a larger travel lane for cars and speeds up traffic.”

Residents seemed to be in favor of enhancing the sidewalks and adding traffic-calming measures, but wished to retain the current on-street parking.

Scharer added that public feedback has been that the on-street parking slows traffic when cars are parked on both sides of the street, because two cars can’t fit.

“It also is creating this frogger effect,” Scharer said. “People feel uncomfortable navigating the street, cyclists included, when there isn’t enough space or line of sight. What you see in the proposed parking layout does accommodate parking on one side and also facilitates narrow lanes for cars to pass.”

Some welcomed the addition of a new sidewalk on the north side of the road, and others thought the sidewalk should not be added. Others also urged the city to add a left turn lane on Coventry Road onto Scott Boulevard and add safer pedestrian corners at the intersection. The city is planning to make improvements to that intersection, but Scott Boulevard is a state route and is under the purview of the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Scharer added that future improvements do include a left turn lane onto Scott Boulevard, which would be a proposal to GDOT. The proposal also includes pedestrian improvements, curb extensions and additional crosswalks at the intersection.

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