On Monday, October 17th, Atlanta City Council will consider Resolution 22-R-4417, a proposal to spend $6.2 Million to repave several blocks of 8 downtown streets – Mitchell Street, Trinity Avenue, Martin Luther King Jr Drive, Washington Street, Central Avenue, Capitol Avenue, Capitol Square, and Memorial Drive – around the Georgia State Capitol and Atlanta City Hall before the next state legislative session begins in January.
If this legislation is approved, the streets would be resurfaced as-is, without any changes to make walking or biking safer, despite City policy to “prioritize safety in restriping programs.”
The projects would ultimately be funded with 2022 TSPLOST funds (first borrowing 2015 Renew bond funds then repaying once enough revenue from the sales tax is built up), but resurfacing these streets is not a project on any voter-approved list. The repavings would cut in line in front of long-awaited projects.
Ways to fix the legislation
- Require ATLDOT to incorporate safety improvements into the resurfacings to make people walking and biking safer.
- Find a different funding source for these projects.
Join us in calling on your Atlanta City Councilmembers to either fix these issues with the legislation during the City Council meeting or to vote against the resolution. Take action
Context and concerns
These projects would make streets smoother but not measurably safer.
One of the core strategies in Atlanta’s strategic transportation plan adopted in 2019 is to “take every opportunity to make streets safer.” The plan goes on to recommend partnering “with the state, community improvement districts (CIDs) and other stakeholders to incorporate crash-prevention tools into resurfacing, restriping and roadway maintenance programs to make our roads safer by design” and to “prioritize safety in restriping programs.”
22-R-4417 overlooks these stated goals and proposes to repave Downtown streets – streets with high volumes of people walking, using wheelchairs, biking, and scooting every day – without making the necessary changes to the streets to improve safety for people outside of cars, and without improving the sidewalks. Five of the streets are one-way roads – Atlanta’s transportation plan calls for downtown one-ways to be converted to two-directional streets – and 6 out of the 7 have more than 3 lanes, so there are many options for safety improvements that would make these streets safer for people outside of cars.
We agree many streets throughout Atlanta are in rough shape and need to be repaved. But while potholes can cause serious damage to vehicles and create a burden on those with limited budgets, the condition of pavement has mixed effects on crashes: good pavement on curves has been found to increase severe crashes – the kind we most want to prevent, in order to save lives and avoid injuries on our streets.
Repaving these streets around the Georgia State Capitol and Atlanta City Hall is not a project on the voter-approved bond or TSPLOST project lists.
There is an overlapping project with a different purpose – the “Pryor & Central Safe Street & Protected Bike Lanes” – but the other streets (Mitchell Street, Trinity Avenue, Martin Luther King Jr Drive, Washington Street, Capitol Avenue, Capitol Square, and Memorial Drive) do not appear anywhere on the lists.
These repavings would essentially cut in line in front of bond and TSPLOST projects approved by voters and City Council not yet completed. During an update in February 2022, then-Transportation Commissioner Josh Rowan reported that the overall 2015 bond and 2016 TSPLOST program was 61% complete.
When the projects are broken down into categories, Complete Streets projects were lagging even further, with just 22% of Complete Streets projects finished. Some of these Complete Streets are stalled due to a lack of funding for resurfacing – funding that has now been found and recommended for streets that don’t appear on the original lists from 2015, 2016, or 2022.
All of this while Atlantans continue to wait for projects on streets like DeKalb Avenue to be delivered.
The resolution proposes to pay back the bonds with 2022 TSPLOST dollars, justified by one project that overlaps slightly with the streets to be repaved (Pryor & Central Safe Street & Protected Bike Lanes, described in the Sept 30th Strategic Delivery Plan for Moving Atlanta Forward as providing “...a safe and attractive active transportation connection between South Downtown, the Southside BeltLine Trail, and the terminus of the Summerhill BRT line. Will include installation of on‐street protected bike lane and other safety improvements where feasible. This project will also consider the two‐way conversion of one of the parallel target corridors.") This project is being submitted for federal funding, which raises questions about how using those funds for different purposes would affect the application.
Residents and City Council went through a painful rebaselining of the bond and TSPLOST in 2019 – as a result, half of the original projects were cut or severely scaled back. We’d all like to prevent that from happening again.
In summer 2022, Atlanta City Council adopted oversight legislation intended to protect the 2022 bond and TSPLOST project lists and prevent them from being raided for pet projects, as happened in prior administrations.
Join us in calling on the Atlanta City Council to stand by that legislation and to either fix or vote down 22-R-4417. Take action