The week after my youngest son was born, there were three crashes at the intersection outside my front door on Boulevard, south of I-20. I found myself rushing outside after each crash to see if people needed help. Those violent crashes struck too close to home. They showed me that we may not be in charge of drafting the plans and crunching the numbers, but we are responsible to our communities for setting the vision for how our streets are designed and what results we will accept.
Last year, A Safer Boulevard successfully lobbied to extend the Monroe Drive/Boulevard Complete Street Project south of Woodward Avenue because we want to transform a dangerous part of our public space into an integrated part of our community. Now, here's your chance to advocate for a better, safer Boulevard Drive. I need you to tell Renew Atlanta and Councilmember Carla Smith that you support these safety upgrades and improvements (see below) before the August 10th deadline for public comment.
On June 28th, the City of Atlanta's Renew Atlanta team held a public meeting on the Complete Street extension on South Boulevard. This project includes dozens of proposed changes to make the road safer for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. A “possible concept” was shared with the public at this meeting. From speaking with all parties at length, it is clear that we need to tell them what we want Boulevard to look like, not just what we think is possible. (You can view the presentations and meeting recap at Renew Atlanta here.)
As you can see from the options presented by Renew Atlanta, we can ask for any amount of lane reductions, medians, crossing signals, bike lanes, widened sidewalks, extended on-street parking, etc. The one and only thing that is off the table is speed bumps. Every other option is open.
The only effective way to calm traffic is to narrow the peripheral vision of the driver. What this means for us is a road diet. The design and engineering teams on the South Boulevard Complete Street Project know this and will freely tell you this in conversation. There are some promising proposals for the southernmost areas of this project that would support cycling and neighborhood cohesion. However, glaringly absent was a road diet on the section of Boulevard between I-20 and Atlanta Ave.
This very section is in high demand for use by kids going between schools, park access, and resident access to local businesses. The only basis for not having a road diet along this section is to prioritize car traffic over safety. This does not benefit residents or local businesses and it does not take into consideration the safety and patterns of use of pedestrians, residents and cyclists.
In conversations with engineers and planners working on this project, it is clear that any changes that we want are possible if enough of us specify the things that are important to us. Let's send them a tsunami of emails and flood them with our call for a safer Boulevard!
Submitting comments in your own words is the most effective way to provide feedback. We've included a sample email you can copy/paste or tailor for your ease.
Send your public comment to Renew Atlanta, Renew Atlanta Interim General Manager Tom Weyandt & City Councilmember Councilmember Carla Smith: RenewAtlanta@AtlantaGa.gov, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Subject: South Boulevard Complete Street Project
I am a local resident and I am writing to ask for the South Boulevard Complete Street Project to include the following components:
- Road diet for the entire route from I-20 to McDonough, including bike lanes
- Excellent safety to support any current or future bus routes along Boulevard
- Extended on-street parking from Confederate toward I-20
- All proposed HAWK and improved crossing signals
- Placemaking approach to the design process that promotes pedestrian connectivity to local businesses south of I-20 and north of I-20
- Maximally effective traffic calming measures at the I-20 intersections and at McDonough intersections
- Comprehensive bike plan for the corridor connecting existing lanes, Beltline and other planned bicycle facilities.
- Bulb outs as appropriate and consistent with bike plan
- Design proposal for the Boulevard bridge over I-20 to be implemented by GDOT including streetscaping and pedestrian improvements
- Parklet proposals for GDOT property at the I-20 on-ramps
Thank you for your work on this project and for keeping the needs of the local community in the forefront of your mind as you redesign this important part of our public space.
Rachel Parish is a community organizer for A Safer Boulevard, a network of local residents advocating for the redesign of Boulevard SE below I-20. A Safer Boulevard supports safe, healthy and connected communities whose transportation options support safety for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists from Memorial to McDonough in both East/West and North/South directions.