By David Pendered
Atlanta is moving forward with plans to create a pleasant place to walk and cycle along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, all the way from the future Falcons stadium to Fulton Industrial Boulevard. A new linear park is to be built.
The 7.2-mile stretch of roadway is the latest of the city’s efforts to retool heavily used corridors into complete streets. The notion is that streets are not complete until they serve pedestrians and cyclists and transit, as well as automobiles and trucks.
Atlanta also is converting a portion of Ponce de Leon Avenue into a complete street.
The total cost for the MLK conversion is budgeted at $60.2 million. The price includes a linear park to be built on the north side of MLK, between Peyton Place and Lynhurst Drive.
The schedule calls for construction to begin in September 2017 and be complete in September 2019. Design and engineering is underway.
Invest Atlanta, the city’s development arm, voted May 28 to provide a total of $2.7 million through funds collected in two tax allocation districts – Howell MLK TAD, and Westside TAD.
Other funding sources include an anticipated federal TIGER grant; PATH Foundation; Georgia Department of Transportation; city general funds; and implementation grants from the Livable Centers Initiative, sponsored by the Atlanta Regional Commission.
Here’s how Invest Atlanta describes the overall project in a fact sheet:
“The entire project includes improvements along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive from Northside Drive to Fulton Industrial Boulevard (7.2 miles). It will reconfigure the roadway to provide a complete street allowing for multi-modal transportation options, green infrastructure and streetscapes. It will also include a linear park along the north side of the road from Peyton Place to Lynhurst Drive, landscaping and pedestrian bridge at the I-285 interchange, and lighting and aesthetic improvements at both I-20 bridge underpasses.
“The purpose of the MLK Jr. Drive Improvements project that began in 2014 was to develop a single strategy to address the transportation needs of the community and corridor uses, improve aesthetics, and stimulate the revitalization of the corridor and surrounding communities. This strategy includes both short-and long range corridor projects that aim to:
- “Provide mobility throughout the entire corridor including accommodating regional trips without degrading local trip making;
- “Incorporate a full range of multi-modal transportation options, address safety issues, and maximize the use of public transportation;
- “Recognize and preserve the historic and cultural significance of the corridor;
- “Be consistent with previous and ongoing planning and project development efforts;
- “Encourage future development and revitalization in the corridor.”
Invest Atlanta approved the use of $1.4 million from the Howell-MLK TAD to help pay for the conversion of almost a mile of MLK. Here’s the description of this part of the project:
“Hollowell-MLK TAD funding will be used for a portion of a linear park, multi-use trail, and streetscape improvements along the north side of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive from Peyton Place to Boulder Park Drive, (approx. 5000 linear feet). The streetscape improvements will include: a 12-foot wide sidewalk with 6-foot buffer strip, street and pedestrian lighting, green infrastructure, street furniture, and landscaping.”
Invest Atlanta approved the use of $1.3 million from the Westside TAD to help pay for the conversion of about 3,000 feet of the corridor. Here’s the description of this part of the project:
“Westside TAD funding will be used for beautification and streetscape improvements along the north side of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive from Northside Drive to James P. Brawley in the Westside TAD boundary (approximately 3,000 linear feet). The streetscape improvements will include: a 12-foot wide sidewalk with 6-foot buffer strip, street and pedestrian lighting, green infrastructure, street furniture, and landscaping.”