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City Council OKs transportation plan, amid more calls to progress ‘complete streets’

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Grady High School students, DeKalb Avenue residents wonder aloud when improvements will be made

A photo of cyclists waiting for their turn at the intersection of 10th Street and Monroe Drive, a chokepoint for pedestrians.
Beltline patrons wait their turn to cross the intersection of 10th Street and Monroe Drive, a chokepoint for pedestrians.
Curbed Atlanta

Even Atlanta high schoolers understand the city’s roadways should be better outfitted for alternative modes of transportation.

During Monday’s Atlanta City Council meeting, Grady High School students rallied in support of “complete streets”—transportation infrastructure improvements that work for pedestrians and cyclists as much as motorists.

“I am not doing this for a class project or to experience [Atlanta] City Hall,” said one Grady student. “Will you build the Monroe Drive complete street before I graduate?”

She was referring to the intersection of 10th Street and Monroe Drive, where the Beltline’s Eastside Trail meets Piedmont Park in Midtown.

In 2016, Grady freshman Alexia Hyneman, 14, was fatally struck by a car while riding her bike at that intersection, ramping up calls to make the area safer for those without automobiles.

Besides a small plaza with seating, little has changed at the chokepoint for Beltline patrons since.

On Monday, the council approved a transportation plan that’s expected to pivot the city from its car-centric focus to one that embraces cyclists, pedestrians, and public transit users, according to Saporta Report.

Part of the aim of the transportation plan is to decrease the amount of commuters who drive alone from more than 50 to around 35 percent or less, the publication reports.

Atlanta commuters drive alone far more frequently than those in peer cities such as Seattle, Chicago, and Washington D.C., the study found.

Achieving that 35-percent-or-less goal would entail encouraging carpooling, in addition to travel without automobiles.

The city could also effect “cordon pricing,” which would tax people to drive through certain parts of the city, according to Saporta Report.

In related news, many attendees at Monday’s meeting were up in arms over how long it’s taken to implement complete streets initiatives in problem areas, such as DeKalb Avenue.

John Morgan, who lives on DeKalb Avenue, said he chooses to drive to the pool just three blocks away because “there’s no way we’ll walk with a five-year-old and a 10-month-old three blocks down DeKalb Avenue when people are going as fast as they’re going.”

Several complete streets projects are currently in jeopardy, since programs built to fund them and other infrastructure improvements—TSPLOST and Renew Atlanta—aren’t bringing in as much cash as initially projected.

Last month, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms launched an effort to prioritize the lengthy projects lists for TSPLOST and Renew Atlanta, which theoretically could help speed up the process of implementation.