Moreland Avenue’s remake will promote alternative transit in a growing community

By Guest Columnist CARL HOLT, an avid promoter of bicycling who volunteered as project manager for the installation of Atlanta’s first bike corral, in the Kirkwood neighborhood

The Georgia Department of Transportation, along with City of Atlanta and Little Five Points Community Improvement District, has been working to transform a half-mile section of Moreland Avenue (U.S. 23/Ga. 42) from a traditional urban highway to a Complete Street. A Complete Street usually involves a road diet, to provide a safer corridor for all modes of transportation. What is unique about this corridor is that Moreland Avenue is a six-lane roadway passing through one of Atlanta’s more pedestrian active business districts, Little Five Points.

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Carl Holt

This project aims to create wider sidewalks, slower vehicle speeds, and Georgia’s first raised bicycle lanes. It will also connect to a City of Atlanta’s ReNew Atlanta Bond project that will transform DeKalb Avenue into a Complete Street, from city limits to Jackson Street. The DeKalb Avenue Complete Street project will see the contraflow (suicide) lane removed, left turn lanes at signalized intersections, pedestrian improvements, and bicycle infrastructure installed along the corridor.

Both these projects come at a time when eastside neighborhoods are seeing increased investment in the form of new multifamily developments, renovated residences and infill single family homes.

GDOT proposes to reduce the number of lanes on Moreland Avenue along the half-mile stretch from the ramps at DeKalb Avenue to the intersection with Euclid Avenue/McLendon Avenue. The vehicular lanes are to be reduced from the current six-lane configuration to four travel lanes with a center turn lane and protected left turn lanes at the signalized intersection.

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Cyclists and pedestrians compete for scarce safe travel lanes along busy Moreland Avenue. Credit: Kelly Jordan

Vehicle travel lanes will be narrowed to from to 11 feet to 10 feet wide. A 5-foot wide, raised bicycle lane and a 5-foot wide sidewalk is to be installed. A 2-foot wide buffer between the roadway and the walk/bike lanes is to be installed.

The raised bicycle lanes will improve the perception of safety for cyclists and attract a wider range of riders. It will allow for better drainage of stormwater in the bike lane and better ADA access to MARTA buses at bus stops, over a curb protected bike lane.

Southbound cyclists, from Freedom Park Trail, will be encouraged to use Seminole Plaza (located near Little Five Points Pizza and The Clothing Warehouse), turn southbound onto Moreland Avenue via a shared lane marking (sharrow). South of Euclid Avenue/McLendon Avenue, cyclists will then enter the raised bike lane.

This design provides a conflict zone for southbound Moreland Avenue vehicles that will be merging into the dedicated right turn for Euclid Avenue. Instead, the raised bike lane should begin at Seminole Plaza.

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The Moreland Avenue Complete Streets project stretches about a half mile, between the Mansfield Avenue intersection and the ramps at DeKalb Avenue. Credit: mapquest, Carl Holt

Northbound cyclists will have a raised bike lane all the way from the ramps at DeKalb Avenue to Seminole Plaza. This intersection will see a green lane transition for northbound cyclists from Moreland Avenue to Seminole Plaza, where cyclists will be encouraged to dismount and walk thru the plaza to access Seminole Avenue and follow it to Freedom Park Trail. The trail will provide access to Downtown Atlanta, the Atlanta BeltLine and Stone Mountain Trail.

Less than a mile south of the Moreland Avenue Complete Street Project, the City of Atlanta is planning an extension of the Trolley Line Trail, built in 1996. The extension funded through the November 2016 TSPLOST referendum,will close the gap of existing trail in the Kirkwood neighborhood and extend the trail along Woodbine Avenue/Arkwright Place, intersecting Moreland Avenue at the often congested Memorial Drive intersection. From there it will continue through Reynoldstown to the Atlanta BeltLine’s Eastside Trail.

As anyone who travels this corridor will tell, traffic congestion has increased as gentrification has accelerated since 2011. Reynoldstown is seeing huge increases in property values and new multifamily developments along Moreland Avenue, including Station R and Reynolds Square. The interior of the neighborhood is filling in, with construction of MODA R-Town and RTown Lane.

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In addition to being an urban highway, Moreland Avenue is a neighborhood street for those who want to walk to a shop or restaurant. Credit: Kelly Jordan

On the other side of Moreland Avenue, which is the county line between Fulton and DeKalb, Edgewood has seen a huge increase in investment. Currently four multifamily projects are under construction, centered on MARTA’s Edgewood/Candler Park Station. They include The Spoke, 1463 LaFrance, The Whitefoord, and LaFrance Walk.

As more people live, work, and visit amenities along Moreland Avenue, south of Little 5 Points, it becomes important to provide alternative transportation options to move people. Currently Moreland Ave is designed for cars and the congestion is reaching gridlock, but by transforming our streets in Complete Streets we can create a network of safe and connected multiuse roadways.

If we are to prevent total gridlock along the Moreland Ave corridor as the neighborhoods around it continue to grow, we must invest in alternative transportation and using those investments to create a connected network. The Moreland Ave Complete Street Project is a great leap forward for GDOT, Moreland Ave, and Little Five Points. It will create a safer street for vehicles, pedestrians, transit users, and cyclists. It will fill a gap, between the planned DeKalb Avenue Complete Street Project and existing Freedom Park Trail.

 

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7 replies
  1. Ryan says:

    Wonderful to see this moving forward. I live in Reynoldstown just off Moreland. I hope that eventually the street improvements on Moreland will continue south of the train tracks. Improvements are especially needed to the underpass, which is one of too few north-south connection points and is not welcoming to cyclists or pedestrians in its current form (the Edgewood underpass is a better alternative, but that is a detour from Moreland, and even there the lack of a bike lane, despite ample space for one, means cyclists end up in the gutter). The Moreland underpass as it is discourages bike and pedestrian access to L5P from the south, and creates unsafe situations for those who do use it to travel to L5P by means other than with a car (including myself). It actually gets a fair amount of pedestrian traffic despite the narrow sidewalks, heavy car traffic with no shoulder, and poor lighting, and would certainly see much more bike traffic if it were safer. The IP/Reynoldstown MARTA overpass is another pedestrian alternative, but since there is only a single access point from the Reynoldstown side directed away from Moreland into a parking lot, that does not connect Moreland or the Edgewood Retail District to L5P as efficiently as it could.Report

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  2. Anna Foote says:

    I am MOST grateful to the neighborhood residents and local business owners who worked for many,many years with GA DOT to make this plan a reality. The citizen Moreland Ave Task Force was key to insuring that there were a wide variety of stakeholders at the table with GA DOT and make sure all of the issues and concerns with that stretch of road was included in the conversation. Like any solution to a complicated problem, the answer is not perfect, but over the next 3 years drivers, pedestrians and bike riders will all see a significant improvement in safety, visibility, mobility and access. Watch for more improvements coming to L5P!!Report

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  3. Thomas Zarrilli says:

    Road diet? Sound more like a gastric bypass. A far better solution would be to tunnel Moreland from North Ave to just past the MARTA tracks. While expensive a pedestrian plaza could be built on the existing roadway. Freedom Park would no longer be bisected by Moreland. McLendon and Euclid could be left connected. Short spurs could be created coming from DeKalb Ave allowing access to L5P.Report

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    • madmulcher says:

      moving you and your car, where ever you’re going is no longer (never should have been) the top priority in design and infrastructure for this urban environment. the businesses and the safety of their nearby patrons are getting their deserved top billing. move to the suburbs if you want to putter around your neighbor, alone, in a big ass car.Report

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      • brainstar8 says:

        Not sure where you live, but I live in Druid Hills near this Moreland so-called project and we are being choked by Emory/CDC commuter traffic. These thousands of people, many of whom live in Gwinnett, Forsyth, Cherokee, Bartow, and so on, will either relinquish their jobs, or they will get in their big ass, or small ass, cars and drive them to work. They are not going to bike. History from nearly 30 years of stats. shows that people use MARTA during recessions and gas shortages. In 10-15 more years, your dream/prediction may be a reality, but it will require MARTA to be better managed and marketed – and for people to have the need and desire to leave behind their cars, trucks and SUVS.Report

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  4. brainstar8 says:

    As someone who lives in this general neighborhood, I’m happy to hear this kind of project could happen. I say “could,” because for a few years good old GDOT has promised traffic calmers on the Ponce de Leon corridor – the dangerous, traffic-clogged, accident-prone residential area.

    The agency seems to favor projects that support commercial interests, over residential, so the project you reference could have its day. In the meantime, residents of Ponce will wait until the cows come home – or maybe another bridge collapse.Report

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