#RespectCacade: Call the Atlanta City Council Transportation Committee TODAY to urge agencies to address safety issues on Cascade Avenue

We all know the intersection at Cascade Avenue and Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard is dangerous. It's been that way for decades. On Wednesday, August 25, a woman lost her life there:

Woman killed after car goes off overpass, onto Atlanta BeltLine below via WSBTV.com:

"The witness said the woman had just left the parking lot of a shopping center nearby when the driver went through the fence along Ralph David Abernathy and fell on the Atlanta BeltLine below."

Steve Gehlbach of WSB via Twitter:

"Witness thinks she may have been trying to avoid getting hit by another car as left Kroger parking lot next door."


This is one more in a long list of crashes on this corridor that have hurt or killed people making ordinary, everyday trips to the grocery store, school, and work. We didn’t need another example of why it's so critical for the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), Atlanta Department of Transportation (ATLDOT), and the Atlanta BeltLine to collaborate with residents to fix this intersection and the adjacent streets.

What's wrong with this picture? 

In addition to the missing sidewalk curb and barrier that likely contributed to the tragically fatal crash, there are major driveway and lane issues. Count the driveways — there are four on Cascade Ave accessing the Kroger parking lot, not counting two more for the Checkers on the corner. All these unmanaged driveways create unnecessary conflicts between drivers and people walking, biking, using wheelchairs, scooting, etc. 

There are four westbound lanes plus two eastbound lanes, yet there’s no left turn lane onto Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. 

It's just a mess.


What should be done about it? Here are our recommendations:

Immediately:

  • Provide safe pedestrian access on the Ralph David Abernathy Blvd bridge above the BeltLine — one of the agencies put a concrete barricade on the sidewalk where the railing was damaged. That barricade is now blocking the sidewalk, forcing people to walk in the street. 
  • Encourage the property owner to close the driveway next to the BeltLine. It’s too close to the traffic light, according to national engineering standards. Curb stops or planter boxes could be used to close this conflict point.

Next:

  • Repair the curb and sidewalk on the bridge above the BeltLine. Every time the street gets resurfaced, the added pavement makes the sidewalk curb lower in comparison. 
  • Add pedestrian signals and crosswalk striping across the driveway at the traffic light.
  • Add the missing fourth leg of the crosswalk.
  • Close all slip lanes: Ralph David Abernathy Blvd / Cascade Ave and Ralph David Abernathy Blvd / Langhorn St. This may require relocating stop bars and shifting some lanes but could be done without resurfacing. 

Longer-term:

  • Reconstruct and resurface Cascade Ave and Ralph David Abernathy Blvd from Langhorn St to Donnelly Ave: change to one lane in each direction plus turn lanes, fix the sidewalk curbs, and expand the sidewalk or add a raised bike lane. 

We’ve reached out to area NPU and neighborhood association leaders for their feedback on these recommendations, which echo our previous advocacy on Cascade Ave. If you live nearby and would like to share feedback, you can email us at [email protected].

It’s time to truly #RespectCacade and address the urgent safety concerns now while laying the groundwork for an overhaul. 

Thanks to everyone who left a comment for the Atlanta City Council Transportation Committee on September 14th! We'll add additional opportunities to advance the much-needed safety changes as they arise.

Recommendations with reference photos (all photos from Google maps)

  • Encourage the property owner to close the driveway next to the BeltLine. It’s too close to the traffic light, according to national engineering standards. Curb stops or planter boxes could be used to close this conflict point.

  • Provide safe pedestrian access on the Ralph David Abernathy Blvd bridge above the BeltLine — one of the agencies put a concrete barricade on the sidewalk where the railing was damaged. That barricade is now blocking the sidewalk, forcing people to walk in the street. 
  • Repair the curb and sidewalk above the BeltLine bridge. Every time the street gets resurfaced, the added pavement makes the sidewalk curb lower in comparison.

  • Add pedestrian signals and crosswalk striping across the driveway at the traffic light
  • Add the missing fourth leg of the crosswalk

  • Close all slip lanes: Ralph David Abernathy Blvd / Cascade Ave and Ralph David Abernathy Blvd / Langhorn St. This may require relocating stop bars and shifting some lanes but could be done without resurfacing.

  • Reconstruct and resurface Cascade Ave and Ralph David Abernathy Blvd from Langhorn St to Donnelly Ave: change to one lane in each direction plus turn lanes, fix the sidewalk curbs, and expand the sidewalk or add a raised bike lane. 

 

Background

Neighborhood residents have called for improvements to Cascade Ave for years. In a letter sent to the City in 2019, the communities of Beecher-Donnelly, Westview, West End, Cascade Avenue, and Venetian Hills, along with Neighborhood Planning Units S and T, came together to advocate for safety improvements to the Cascade corridor to be made through the funded Renew Atlanta / TSPLOST resurfacing project. Here’s their letter and our recommendations for the corridor, also published in 2019.

Today, as the Cascade Road Complete Street project moves forward — the City recently signed a contract to start construction — it’s unclear what will happen on Cascade Ave and when. 

Let’s make sure the safety improvements planned for Ralph David Abernathy Blvd make this intersection safer, and that the City commits to ensuring a continuous, safe corridor. 

 


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