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Georgia Department of Transportation installing crossing upgrade at Scott and Blackmon

Crime and public safety DeKalb County Trending

Georgia Department of Transportation installing crossing upgrade at Scott and Blackmon

The location of the intersection of Scott Boulevard and Blackmon Drive. Image obtained via Google Maps.
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Greater Decatur, GA — Improvements are coming to a notorious pedestrian crossing in Greater Decatur.

The Georgia Department of Transportation on Jan. 16 began installing a leading pedestrian interval to the pedestrian crossing at Scott Boulevard and Blackmon Drive. DeKalb Commissioner Ted Terry forwarded an email the county public works department sent to him and County Commissioner Michelle Long-Spears about the signal upgrade.

“I was just notified by the GDOT consultant that the leading pedestrian interval (LPI) of 7 seconds to both ped crossing Scott and Blackmon (shopping center side) will be installed this afternoon,” a county engineer says.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, “A leading pedestrian interval (LPI) gives pedestrians the opportunity to enter the crosswalk at an intersection 3-7 seconds before vehicles are given a green indication. Pedestrians can better establish their presence in the crosswalk before vehicles have priority to turn right or left.”

The crossing area was the scene of at least two pedestrian crashes, one of them fatal.

 A driver behind the wheel of a Subaru hit a pedestrian in a crosswalk at Scott Boulevard and Blackmon Drive on Thursday evening, Oct. 26, 2023.

A witness described the pedestrian as a young woman. She was injured but declined to go to the hospital, according to police.

Almost a year ago, a young woman died in that same location.

The woman died after a driver behind the wheel of a Dodge Challenger hit her while she was crossing Scott Boulevard in Greater Decatur on Nov. 17, 2022. The driver stayed at the scene and wasn’t charged. The DeKalb County Police report suggests that the driver’s account of what happened is the only one that the investigator heard. The report lists no other witnesses.

As is often the case in pedestrian deaths, the initial police report blamed the pedestrian, saying she was outside the crosswalk when she was hit.

But Quanisha Ball’s mother, Courtney Thompkins, and her former manager at Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute say that story doesn’t track with what they know about Ball, who was 31 when she died. Ball was well aware of how dangerous Atlanta traffic could be and wouldn’t have been outside a crosswalk, according to the people who knew her. They questioned whether the force of the crash pushed Ball out of the crosswalk.

Thompkins has been an advocate for her daughter and improvements to the crossing. She celebrated the news about the installation of the LPI.

“A lot of progress and change is happening because of Quanisha’s beautiful life,” Thompkins said.

She also called for stronger laws to hold drivers accountable for hitting pedestrians.

“The roads aren’t killing innocent people,” Thompkins said. “The driver behind the wheel is the reckless one 90 percent of the time.”

Commissioner Long-Spears’ office attended a vigil for Ball on Nov. 17 and gave an update on the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) safety audit.

Spears previously said addressing this stretch of road is a priority for her. Her office is in touch with the Georgia Department of Transportation, and there’s a safety audit underway for this section of Scott Boulevard.

“We share the community’s interest in pedestrian safety, and we have been communicating with DeKalb County Police, DeKalb Transportation, and the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT),” Spears said in an email. In terms of the safety audit, GDOT has studied the intersection and has a design for improvements that’s out for bid. Once that work begins, it will take about six months to complete, she said.

“The new design appears to greatly improve pedestrian safety and prioritization compared to the current scenario,” Spears said. “The project aims to provide enhancements to vulnerable roadway user safety and includes a new bulb out (which decreases crossing distance for pedestrians), new ADA ramps, and the installation of a new crosswalk across US78/Scott Blvd. The signal timing will also be enhanced, given the proposed changes.”

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