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Sean Keenan

Transportation officials install barriers on Edgewood Avenue to curb car stunts

Sean Keenan

By Sean Keenan 

Atlanta’s car-centric urban design might be contributing to the rash of stunt driver-style behavior on Sweet Auburn’s Edgewood Avenue.

So says Josh Rowan, the City of Atlanta’s transportation chief. “There’s a lot of room for silly stuff,” he told SaportaReport in a recent interview, citing the burnouts, donuts and occasional drag racing taking place on and around Edgewood Avenue’s nightlife strip.

So, to combat a years-long problem that’s frustrated local business owners and nearby residents, Rowan had the city’s transportation department quickly cobble together a makeshift median on Edgewood Avenue, between Jackson Street and Boulevard, where most of the local bars are settled.

Chopping the road into just two narrow lanes by splitting the center lane with water-filled plastic barricades should make reckless driving much more difficult, the logic goes.

“Let’s see if we can’t go kill that space with our barricades,” Rowan said.

For years, the dilemma Edgewood Avenue faces on weekends has been seen as a law enforcement issue. Now, though, officials see an opportunity to solve a problem with a smart, shared street design — one that doesn’t give free rein to motorists.

Rowan also said he’s considering protecting the existing bike lanes along Edgewood Avenue.

In theory, these deterrents will keep the rowdy gatherings from happening there altogether.

“By the time the cars are doing donuts and there are 400 people there, we’ve already lost,” Rowan said. “My theory is that narrowing the street helps stop that [before it starts].”

After all, if you’re whipping around a souped-up, $60,000 sports car, Rowan said, “I certainly wouldn’t want to be swinging that around if I could hit something.”

This weekend will be the first test drive of the road-narrowing effort, and Rowan said he’s going to monitor the effects from nearby. If all goes to plan, he added, the temporary barriers could make way for more permanent fixtures.

(Header image, via Sean Keenan: The latest addition to Edgewood Avenue.)

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3 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Wormser Hats July 14, 2020 11:16 am

    Discouraging the nuisance (and so-far wreck-less) behavior will be welcome by the community, but won’t it just send the problem to another intersection or community?

    Is there any intention behind the notion of creating a sanctioned space for the street sportsters to gather and do their thing that minimizes the nuisance, but allows aficionados to enjoy their pastime with safety and even economic-opportunity in mind?

    There are vast swaths of unimpeded and underused asphalt in this town that, coupled with an interest in street motor-sports, it seems
    the business case could be made to let checkered flags fly in a safer way that’s enjoyed by all constituencies. Even stock-car racing grew out of vehicles souped-up for illegal moonshine running. So maybe the interest in this stuff could be affirmatively harnessed, instead of simply repudiated and constantly fought.Report

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  2. Avatar
    Greg Hodges July 14, 2020 1:01 pm

    Sean, the design of Atlanta’s public streets (including Edgewood Ave) in no way contributes to the “rash of stunt-driver behavior”. This behavior is 100% attributed to the lawless and slow witted buffoons who get behind the wheel to engage in illicit, not to mention dangerous, stunt-driver behavior. Nothing else, except perhaps the crowds of equally brain cell deprived dolts who gather curb side to cheer on these idiots.Report

    Reply
  3. Avatar
    Laura Price July 20, 2020 10:58 am

    Wormser Hats, to answer your question, yes I think discouraging this in Edgewood did result in the action moving to another area. We were already having some issues with this in Castleberry Hill and Mercedes-Benz Stadium/Centennial Park Drive but now that Edgewood’s burnout/drag racing has been impeded, Castleberry Hill’s have gone crazy.

    I have a lot of mixed feelings about this phenomenon. As an owner/resident in my neighborhood, I’m super annoyed at being kept awake by this — two nights in a row of very intense action as of this posting — but I also worry that a confrontation between police and rowdy but not necessarily malicious lawbreakers could result in violence and I sure don’t want that in our neighborhood either.

    Both Centennial Park where cars were set on fire right after George Floyd’s killing and University Ave. where Rayshard Brooks was killed and the Wendy’s was burned are very close and I could see a confrontation escalating quite easily due to the general mood of the area. Someone in our neighborhood said they had spoken directly to the police who were onsite and they said they had been told not to intervene.

    I just feel really stuck. I don’t want anyone to die over this, I just want to not have fireworks being shot into our homes and being kept awake with burning rubber and squealing engines. I know ignoring it won’t make it go away, though, too. That’s why I like this barrier idea, I recommended it to our neighborhood discussion about what to do. People are starting to talk about tire spikes and capturing tags with a drone camera. It’s that bad.

    You mentioned building a sanctioned space, and I have to say I don’t have an issue with it, but as far as I can tell the lawbreaking aspect is a huge part of the draw. That’s why they’re doing it on interstates and busy roads like Peachtree in Midtown. You can lead a horse to water but it might rather have a beer, if you know what I mean.Report

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