'Street of Dignity' could become nickname for Atlanta's Martin Luther King Jr. Drive

By David Pendered

Atlanta’s Martin Luther King Jr. Drive may be taking on a new moniker as the city’s “Street of Dignity,” if language catches on that appears in the city’s announcement of progress on the plan to retool the roadway into a complete street.

MLK complete streets

The narrow sidewalk along Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive is to be replaced with a 12-foot-wide sidewalk, separated from vehicles by a 6-foot-wide buffer that is to have trees, lamps, and benches. File/Credit: David Pendered

Atlanta City Councilmember C.T. Martin used the descriptor in a statement released March 23 by Mayor Kasim Reed’s office. Here’s the reference:

  • “It is very gratifying that the city is about to move forward with one of the most historic and providential actions it could take in regards to our Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, better described as ‘The Street of Dignity.’
  • “We want this to be in King’s honor because we are proud of his achievements, Martin said. “This is the signature street of America. More than 100 residents supported this legislation and they should be commended for their efforts.”

Reed’s quote in the statement is:

  • “Atlanta is the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The street bearing his name should represent his legacy and stand as a source of pride and excellence for all who travel on it. Today, the City of Atlanta is one step closer to making this corridor one of the most attractive streets in America.”

The purpose of the statement was to draw attention to legislation the Atlanta City Council approved March 21.

The legislation authorized the Reed administration to sign deals with the Georgia Department of Transportation in regards to the complete streets project.

The two papers address the portion of the project involving Lynhurst Drive and the portion of MLK from Ralph David Abernathy to the city limit at Fulton Industrial Boulevard.

Atlanta Councilmember C.T. Martin

Atlanta Councilmember C.T. Martin

One paper enables Atlanta to agree to mow and maintain the landscaping that’s part of the complete streets project on Lynhurst and this portion of MLK.

The other paper provides an additional $8.2 million in funding for the Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Lynhurst Drive complete streets project, to complete the design and construction of the Lynhurst Drive project, according to the paper.

As Reed’s statement portrayed the situation, Atlanta will be able to leverage GDOT’s project to repave this portion of MLK. The city now will be able to extend the amount of project Atlanta can pay for with city funds.

“We are excited that the Atlanta City Council recognized the importance of moving now on this project to ensure this unique and productive partnership with the Georgia Department of Transportation,” Reed said.

The entire MLK complete streets project stretches 7.2 miles, from the intersection of MLK and Northside Drive to Fulton Industrial Boulevard. Plans call for a linear park to be built on the north side of MLK, between Peyton Place and Lynhurst Drive.

The entire project is priced at about $60 million. Atlanta expects to pay for the work with money from the Howell/MLK and Westside tax allocation districts; an anticipated federal TIGER grant; PATH Foundation; GDOT; city general funds; and implementation grants from the Livable Centers Initiative, sponsored by the Atlanta Regional Commission.

Efforts to develop MLK into a complete street have been underway since 2014. The most recent plan calls for construction to begin in autumn 2017 and be finished within two years.

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

3 replies
  1. Avatar
    tigerfire123 says:

    Agreed!  Particularly with all the slated development along Memorial Dr … MLK Jr Dr SE would be a perfect complete streets candidate from Grant Park through Downtown.Report


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

19 + 1 =

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