Atlanta City Councilmember Natalyn Archibong introduced legislation requesting the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) implement traffic calming measures along the portions of Memorial Drive within the Atlanta city limits.
Councilmember Archibong said she would like to see Memorial Drive become a safer corridor for walkers and cyclists, with inclusion of green spaces at a time when new housing and amenities, including restaurants and businesses, are rediscovering what many refer to as the “gateway to Atlanta.”
“The Memorial Drive Corridor, especially the portions that lie within the city limits, is experiencing a rebirth. The future of Memorial Drive depends on what we do today to address traffic along the corridor,” Archibong said. “Issues such as speeding, visibility for motorists and pedestrians and the lack of adequate pedestrian crosswalks have become a public safety concern that needs to be addressed with short-term and long-term solutions.”
Memorial Drive (State Route 154) connects downtown Atlanta to DeKalb County, and ends at Stone Mountain. Memorial Drive is a state road which falls under the purview of the Georgia Department of Transportation.
Councilmember Archibong and members of the advocacy group Stakeholders of the Memorial Drive Communities have drafted a letter this month to GDOT Commissioner Russell R. McMurry and state officials detailing the serious safety concerns shared by citizens in the communities along Memorial Drive.
“Residents in the communities along Memorial Drive have been voicing their concerns for years about high driver speeds, confusing roadway design, and poor pedestrian facilities,” said Greg Giuffrida, a resident of Ormewood Park “The tragedies of recent months only reinforce the need for immediate and long-term improvements to slow down drivers, reduce motorist conflicts, and enhance crossings and sidewalks for the people who live, work, and learn here.”
On March 20 a pedestrian as killed while attempting to walk across Memorial Drive at the uncontrolled intersection of Campbell Street in the Kirkwood neighborhood. She was struck by a westbound driver and pronounced dead on the scene.
“We are seeking a range of immediate safety improvements to add pedestrian crossings, as well as a long-term roadway design that complements the historic and redeveloping urban communities it passes through,” Giuffrida said. “We commend Georgia DOT staff for their sincere commitment to working with the communities on making these changes. We are simply asking for a more aggressive timeline to addressing these safety issues before another tragedy happens.”
Pedestrian safety is also a concern of school officials at Drew Charter School. In 2015 the school released a report concerning pedestrian and biking safety to and from the school in April 2015.
Many students attending Drew Charter School live within a one-mile travel distance of the school and nearly half of these students walk/travel along Memorial Drive to reach the campus, according to the report. Memorial Drive experience high traffic volumes during the peak arrival and dismissal time that creates a barrier for students traveling on foot or by bicycle.
Archibong and members of the Stakeholders of the Memorial Drive Communities have set several priorities for improvements to the corridor. They include:
1) Safety for the most vulnerable users: Children, seniors, people with limited mobility, all other pedestrians, and users of current and future transit service
2) Safer and more thoughtful integration of bicycle networks in adjacent communities
3) Safety for motorists who experience a confusing and unpredictable environment with numerous turning conflicts, changing lane configurations, and poor visibility
4) Improving safe, convenient access for the surrounding historic neighborhoods that have been bisected by this corridor, reconnecting them with schools, parks, and businesses
5) Creating a street environment that maximizes the economic benefit of more than $1 billion in private investment along Memorial Drive expected in the next five years
Councilmember Archibong’s legislation was forwarded to the Atlanta City Council’s Transportation Committee for further discussion during its 10:30 a.m. meeting on Wednesday, April 26 in Committee Room No. 1, Atlanta City Hall, 55 Trinity Avenue, S.W.