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City, Midtown leaders applaud nearly $1M in sidewalk fixes, walkability improvements

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Of course, there’s still plenty of work to be done

A picture of a cracked sidewalk.
One of Atlanta’s many busted sidewalks.
Sean Keenan, Curbed Atlanta

For Atlantans who typically traverse the city from behind the wheel, upgrades to pedestrian infrastructure can be easily overlooked.

But in places like Midtown, construction crews are constantly repairing and replacing walkways, curbs, and crosswalks, and the fruits of their labor is becoming increasingly apparent.

It’s no secret Atlanta’s sidewalks are still chronically cracked and broken, and that more funding is needed from programs like the Renew Atlanta and TSPLOST plans. But later this year, Midtown Alliance will cross a milestone “with $1 million invested in repairs and improvements for one of the district’s most important assets.”

Since 2014, more than $850,000 worth of sidewalk repairs have been completed, according to the organization.

Reads a Midtown Alliance news release: “Through funds allocated by the Renew Atlanta-TSPLOST and dedicated funds from the Midtown Improvement District, construction teams are working on a variety of small-scale projects that range from patching or replacing concrete and resetting pavers to tree-well expansions and ADA-compliant ramp improvements.”

City officials and Midtown Alliance leaders used imagery like this to show construction workers how to properly repair a walkway after they’ve buried cable beneath it.
Midtown Alliance

Making sure Midtown walkways—and Atlanta sidewalks and crosswalks in general—are in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act is a crucial challenge that local leaders are working to overcome.

The city’s crumbling sidewalks can be especially trying for people with impaired vision, says Ashley Hatcher, mobility specialist at the Center for the Visually Impaired, per the release.

Sidestepping e-scooters has presented a whole different challenge on sidewalks, Hatcher said. But recent ADA improvements have made a significant difference for CVI clients, she said.

All of the diagonal-facing wheelchair ramps on Midtown’s 14th and 15th street intersections have been replaced, with two ramps in each direction.

“[The visually impaired] use hearing to align to traffic in order to cross the street,” Hatcher said. “It’s really complicated when there’s just one ramp.”

Additionally, each ramp will receive “tactile paving,” which means they’ll feature textured bumps that signal to people with visual impairments that they’re about to step into the street.

An example of tactile paving.
Midtown Alliance

Plenty of other ongoing projects are improving the walkability of Midtown.

Neighborhood leaders have taken it upon themselves to educate construction crews on how not to ruin walkways when projects entail chewing them up.

Those efforts have recently focused on three intersections along Peachtree Street (14th and 15th streets and Deering Road), with more projects planned for Peachtree Circle and the Buford-Spring Connector, according to Midtown Alliance.

Plenty of work remains to be done before Midtown can call itself a pedestrian paradise, but the neighborhood seems to be on the right track.

With at least $12 million more in funding likely to come from the reorganized Renew Atlanta and TSPLOST programs, other intown neighborhoods could be on the cusp of similar improvements.