State lawmakers vote for closure of part of Downtown Atlanta’s Mitchell Street

By Maggie Lee

The street that runs between Atlanta City Hall and the state Capitol has become a battle line between the near-neighbors Downtown.

The three-lane block of Mitchell Street alongside the southwest side of the state Capitol has been closed to vehicles for weeks. It was closed just after a young man allegedly brandished a gun at a security guard on that block of the street.

A view of Atlanta over Mitchell Street from the state Capitol. Credit: Maggie Lee

A view of Atlanta over Mitchell Street from the state Capitol. Credit: Maggie Lee

And now the state Legislature has approved legislation that says it shall be closed permanently.

That wasn’t part of Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ plan.

“Our position is still that the city owns the street and we will continue conversations with the governor and GDOT [Georgia Department of Transportation] after the session about the future of Mitchell Street,” wrote Bottoms’ spokesman Michael Smith in an email just before the House voted final approval of the bill.

State Rep. Matt Hatchett, R-Dublin, said a report from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommended closing the street.

“Ladies and Gentlemen this is a safety issue, we’ve been talking about closing Mitchell Street since 1953,” said Hatchett, ahead of the House floor vote on Friday.

The bill text claims that the street is part of state-owned property anyway.

The street runs between the state Capitol and its office buildings, so during the three-month legislative session at the beginning of each year, it’s a busy crossing.

The idea didn’t get a warm reception at a meeting of city of Atlanta lawmakers on Friday.

“Is this the first of many streets that they may like? They really like this area around the Capitol. They think they’re making it beautiful for the city of Atlanta,” said state Rep. Pat Gardner, D-Atlanta. “But there is the Fulton County Courthouse and the Fulton County administration building, the … Atlanta City Council area and all of Georgia State that would be impacted the other nine months.”

State Rep. Park Cannon, a fellow Atlanta Democrat, urged a “no” vote.

“I do think this is one where the public would stand with us,” said Cannon.

Just after that meeting, the state House approved the bill by a vote of 106-59.

Senate Resolution 537 now goes to Gov. Nathan Deal for his review.

Maggie Lee is a freelance reporter who's been covering Georgia and metro Atlanta government and politics since 2008.

5 replies
  1. Wayne Anderson says:

    Obviously, the real problem is too many guns. The Georgia legislators are afraid. Good. We are all afraid. Less guns and psychiatric care in the south are the solutions.
    Certainly, the roads around the Georgia Capitol could become more pedestrian- friendly, like complete streets.
    But, perhaps our congressmen should more adequately reflect Georgia’s diverse population… then they would have no need to fear.
    Today, our legislators are a national embarrassment, almost as much as Alabama. Gerrymandering must be confronted. Let our representatives truly reflect our truly diverse Georgia, not just only one race. It is 2018. Almost all of the people are ready. The rich need not rule.Report

    Reply
  2. Jackye Mumphrey, The Real Estate Maven says:

    Blocking streets in an already congested area of the city makes no sense. It’s Georgia, everyone has guns. Secure the buildings better and patrol the area more when politicians are in session and keep things moving in the city. It’s pretty simple. You don’t need laws to close streets.. Use the power of law to do the good of the people instead.. If you are afraid to go and do your job for fear of being shot as a politician, go do another job.Report

    Reply
  3. dickeysezso says:

    We should close more streets in downtown! I’m not privy to the events that went down on Mitchell, but if Atlanta gov’t were smart, they’d pivot the issue to create a more walkable downtown Atlanta. More people walking equals more commerce. More commerce equals stronger neighborhoods.Report

    Reply
  4. Michael MC says:

    Trinity will probably be next. They need to change the flow so that the roundabout in front of the new Judicial building will work more smoothly.Report

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

What are your thoughts?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.