Councilmember Archibong hosts Imagine Memorial community update

Atlanta City Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong hosted a meeting for District 5 constituents on Feb. 21, 2017, to offer updates and listen to concerns on a wide range of private and public projects along the Memorial Drive Corridor. (Photo by Johanna Smith)

EAST LAKE _ Atlanta City Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong hosted an Imagine Memorial community update meeting for District 5 constituents at Drew Charter School on February 21, 2017.

Representatives of Memorial Drive Atlanta, the City of Atlanta, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., and Georgia Department of Transportation walked through the wide range of private development and public infrastructure projects being planned along the Corridor from Downtown to East Lake. The meeting began with an overview of Memorial Drive Atlanta’s central mission to enhance the movement, guide development, preserve a sense of place, and create a central organization to facilitate these goals into the future.

Corridor Executive Greg Giuffrida offered details about the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Livable Centers Initiative award of a $40,000 grant to update, revise and adopt the Imagine Memorial study as a new LCI plan. That study was commissioned by Councilwoman Archibong in 2014 with Georgia Tech’s School of City and Regional Planning to analyze the corridor from the perspective of an urban transportation corridor. The LCI funds plans and projects that support more walkable communities. A steering committee with community members and subject experts is being formed and residents who are interested in participating are encouraged to reach out to their neighborhood leadership, Councilmember, or Giuffrida if they are interested in participating when the process begins in April or May.

Georgia DOT State Traffic Engineer Andrew Health reported some initial findings from a traffic study the agency funded for the length of the Corridor. Crash reports estimate that there have been over  1,000 crashes over the past 5 years on the corridor, nearly one per weekday. The study also investigated the impacts of a so-called “road diet” that would convert the reversible lane into a center turn lane. GDOT is working through the Imagine Memorial Transportation committee formed by Councilmember Archibong to discuss how to implement the findings of the study.

Several intersections along the Corridor, like Grant Street above, are receiving signal upgrades with new mast arms, LED lights, crosswalks, and pedestrian call buttons. (Photo by Greg Giuffrida)

Updates were also provided on new signal upgrades at several intersections on Memorial Drive, including Hill Street, Grant Street, Cherokee, Boulevard, Pearl Street, Chester Avenue, Bill Kennedy Way, Stovall, and Moreland Avenue. The new signals should be operational in coming months, and several current poles will be removed. State Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator Katelyn DiGioia gave an update on a major overhaul to the intersections of Moreland Avenue at Memorial Drive and Arkwright Place between Reynoldstown and Edgewood. The current design calls for removing the vehicular crossing at Arkwright Place in favor of right-in/right-out access on each side. It will also improve curb ramps, sidewalks, signal timing, and install a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon that fully stops traffic for pedestrians and cyclists to cross on the future Trolley Trail (more details below). These changes are scheduled to go into construction in 2020.

Atlanta’s Chief Bicycle Officer Becky Katz discussed bicycle alternatives to Memorial Drive, including Woodward Avenue in Capitol Gateway and Grant Park, and the Renew Atlanta Monroe/Boulevard Complete Street project. Both projects are expected to provide better accommodations for people walking, biking, and riding transit across the different Memorial Drive neighborhoods. The Trolley Trail is a major amenity currently being designed by the City and the PATH Foundation. This continuation of the existing PATH trail along Gilliam and Coan parks in Kirkwood will serve as a fully separated walking and biking trail that connects to the future BeltLine in Reynoldstown. The City is forming a neighborhood task force to help inform that project and future public meetings are planned.

Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., announced that funding is now in place for completing the Eastside Trail extension from Kirkwood Avenue in Reynoldstown all the way to Memorial Drive at the intersection with Bill Kennedy Way shown above. (Photo by Greg Giuffrida)

Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. Community Engagement Manager Nathan Soldat said the Eastside Trail extension currently under construction to Kirkwood Avenue in Reynoldstown will be complete in late summer 2017. He also confirmed that funding is now in place for finishing the Eastside Trail all the way to Memorial Drive. Construction will take 12 to 18 months from the time the contract is executed. The Southside Corridor Design project, which is designing the BeltLine between Memorial Drive and the Westside Trail in Adair Park, is in the middle of its 18-24 month process. Easements and right-of-way still need to be acquired, but funding for that was approved by Atlanta voters as part of the T-SPLOST referendum. Materials from recent BeltLine meetings are available here.

These updates were followed by a lively Q&A session between residents of the corridor and the representatives present. Several residents expressed their concerns about vehicle speeds and pedestrian safety along the Corridor, especially at the crossings used by students and parents at Drew Charter School. Other questions were related to bike infrastructure, redevelopment of brownfields, safety enhancements to intersections, and the impact of potential streetcar rail service. Others were concerned about coming densities, equity among owner occupied homes and rental housing, as well as connectivity towards downtown for all neighborhoods.

The meeting was filmed by City communications staff and it will air on Channel 26 in early March. An abridged version of the slideshow is available on the Resources page here. Decaturish also had a recap.

There will be many more opportunities for residents to stay informed, get involved, and offer their input on the wide range of private and public projects happening along the Corridor. Please check in to this site, sign up for email updates, and follow us on social media to keep up.