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.
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.
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.
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.
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.