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Decatur Considers Roundabout

Traffic circle at Church and Lucerne streets is one possibility in transportation plan.

Decatur may get rid of a traffic signal and build the city’s first roundabout at the intersection of Church and Lucerne streets, near Glenlake Park.

The city revealed that possibility Monday night during a community workshop at city hall on safety, pedestrian and bicycling improvements for Clairemont, Church and Commerce streets.

Hugh Saxon, deputy city manager, told a crowd of about 40 people that nothing’s set in stone. He said the drawings displayed Monday night haven't even been posted on the city website yet and are certain to be revised further.

But Saxon noted in an interview that the Georgia Department of Transportation, which would pay for most of the $3.5 million project, is promoting traffic circles because they improve traffic flow.

Consulting firms hired by the city designed placards that showed possible changes for the streets, including the traffic circle. Citizens posted negative comments on pink sticky notes.

One said losing the traffic light would make the Church-Lucerne intersection dangerous to children. Another said the circle would make life more dangerous to bicyclists traveling on Church Street.

Handouts showed several possibilities for the streets. For instance, Church Street might have:

  • Bike lanes with on-street parking on each side.
  • Bikes lanes with parking on one side.
  • Bike lanes with parking on one side and a left turn lane.
  • Bike lanes with parking on one side and a center turn lane.

Possibilities for the Commerce-Clairemont intersection include:

  • Removing the southbound or northbound right turn lanes and share them with a through lane.
  • Reducing two eastbound through lanes to one lane.
  • Remove the westbound turn lane and share it with a through lane.
  • Narrowing travel lane widths from 12 to 11 feet.

Overall, officials said, the streets will get narrower because bike lanes will be added in places. Sharrows, bike boxes and other safety measures for bicyclists would be added.

Naveed Jaffar, a senior traffic engineer with Florence and Hutcherson, consulting engineers, said construction of the traffic circle would not require the city to take any right of way. Saxon estimated the traffic circle would cost about a quarter of a million dollars.

Several bicyclists attended, some arriving with bike helmets under their arms.

Sara Yurman said local bicyclists have been urging the city to adopt a comprehensive transportation plan for years.

“I think the fact that we’re having this meeting is terrific,” she said.

On Decatur’s overall bike-ability, she said. “I like it. It could use improvement. It’s not Portland.”

The city is applying for grants for the project, . The city will be responsible for about $475,000. Saxon has said actual construction is years away if funding comes through.

The proposed changes are part of the community transportation plan.

Chris Billingsley September 27, 2011 at 08:53 PM
I would like to suggest that ONE of the options should be that Church Street have no bike lanes.
Heidi O'Shea September 28, 2011 at 12:13 AM
About 2 years ago I was cycling with a my 5-year old daughter on a tag-along up Church Street to bring her to preschool. We were almost run over by a driver in a rage to pass us in the right lane. This caused me to look into the plan with the City of Decatur who informed us that there is a long term plan to make Church Street into 2 lanes, including bike lanes. This was two years ago. We are ready to see some changes, be it a traffic circle/light but more importantly making the 4-lanes into 2-lanes with bike lanes on each side going up to the Commerce intersection from the Forkner intersection. Also, narrowing the street, adding hardscape walls or boulders will also slow people down, making it safer to walk across or cycle. In the middle of the Emory/Lullwater roundabout, there is a nice landscaped area with a tree and ornamental shrubs... a nice example.
Sandy Peyton September 29, 2011 at 02:34 PM
I like the round-abouts idea!!..Please consider putting one at the intersection of Church St. and Forkner/Medlock.

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