Finally, DeKalb Ave Phase 1: reviewing the design and looking ahead

Wave goodbye to the reversible lane and pothole-riddled pavement that represent DeKalb Ave today, because the street is finally getting some love. Along with new pavement comes a redesign. The project doesn't include everything that we wanted. However, the City of Atlanta says it will enhance the safety and well-being of people living on DeKalb Ave as well as those who use it to commute or visit its small businesses. 

Photo: current conditions on DeKalb Ave, pre-redesign and construction.

Improvements include:

  • resurfacing
  • replacing the dangerous reversible lane with center left turn lanes
  • a few sections of bike/scoot/LIT (Light Infrastructure Transportation) lanes, primarily between the Inman Park MARTA station and Elmira Pl
  • concrete medians at Jackson St, Waddell St, Degress Ave, and Ridgecrest
  • crosswalks with Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons (pedestrian-activated warning devices) at Ridgecrest Rd, Boulevard SE, and Degress Ave

Check out the plans here.

This is the first phase of change for DeKalb Ave. We share a more expansive vision for a "complete street" with many residents and commuters and remain committed to achieving it. Unfortunately, DeKalb was one of the projects cut when the City of Atlanta had to reduce the overall costs for Renew Atlanta and TSPLOST projects in 2019. (You can read more about that here.) However, the Complete Street design was funded, and we will advocate for community engagement in that process.

We will also continue to monitor the safety and function of the sections of LIT lanes — especially the Moreland Ave interchange. Additional improvements may be needed to keep it fully separated from cars while we wait for the next phase for DeKalb Ave. 

In order to actually build the full vision on DeKalb Ave, the City will need to find a new funding source. A next TSPLOST is the most likely option if voters approve. Stay tuned for our priorities on the TSPLOST project list and process later this fall. 

Following the February 2020 public meeting, we sent a letter to ATLDOT with specific requests for changes. Here’s a recap of the design we wanted on DeKalb Ave compared with what the current project holds:

What we wanted What we’re getting

Fix the Moreland Ave intersection. The initial design prioritized the movement of cars and sandwiched the bike/scoot/LIT (Light Individual Transportation, including bikes and scooters) lane in between a thru-lane and a turn lane. 

1. Place the LIT lane adjacent to the curb.

2. Remove the right turn lanes and close the slip lane and create a wider radius turning right onto Moreland Ave using the extra width.

3. Use highly durable and visible materials, increase the density of flex posts, and include maintenance in the ATLDOT budget.

The LIT lane was moved to be adjacent to the curb.

Right turn lanes and slip lanes were kept in the plans.

Materials used in the LIT lane buffer will include “zebras” (raised pavement markers in the shape of a ribbed hump) in the pattern below separated by 10 feet (5 feet apart at beginning and end of facility): Zebra | Zebra | Flexpost .

Extend the LIT lane by three blocks to reach Oakdale Rd/Whiteford Ave and the Edgewood/Candler Park MARTA station for safety and consistency with the Mayor’s Action Plan for Safer Streets.

The LIT lane was not extended to connect to the MARTA station due to the higher priority placed on left turn lanes onto Oakdale Rd and Whitefoord Ave.

It was extended to Elmira Pl, one block shy of Candler St NE and three blocks short of the Candler Park MARTA station. 

The sidewalk between Elmira Pl and Candler St NE is 10 feet for the majority of the block but there are no changes proposed to make it a shared space.

Bike/Scoot/LIT lanes were added to Whitefoord Ave.

Also, extend the proposed LIT lane at the Arizona Ave intersection one block to reach Clifton Rd, an important connection for commuters using active transportation to get to the Emory and CDC area. 

The bike/scoot/LIT lane was extended to connect Arizona Ave to Clifton Rd.

Reduce potential conflicts between turning cars and the LIT lane by prohibiting some left turns.

This was not done — the only turn restricted is the left turn into and out of Waddell St due to the proximity to Krog St.

Continue the LIT lane along the east side of Hurt St adjacent to the Inman Park/Reynoldstown MARTA station. 

Or, allow people on bikes/scooters to enter and exit the LIT lane through the MARTA station’s parking lot. 

Improve the crosswalk from Edgewood Ave across Hurt St to the MARTA parking lot.

On Hurt St (cross-section on pdf p9, 05-0004) a southbound LIT lane approaching DeKalb Ave is provided but a northbound LIT lane is not.

There is no signage either preventing or encouraging people on bikes or scooters to enter at the Inman Park/Reynoldstown MARTA parking lot.

Hurt St improvements end south of the intersection with Edgewood Ave.

Extend the resurfacing and lane reconfiguration to Atlanta’s City limits, creating a consistent cross-section, rather than ending at Rockyford Rd.

The lane reconfiguration and resurfacing project was extended as follows:

  • Two westbound lanes toward Atlanta and one eastbound lane toward Decatur at Ridgecrest Rd.
  • The second westbound lane is dropped between Ridgecrest Rd and Palifox Dr.

A right turn lane was added from DeKalb Ave traveling east onto Rockyford Rd and a buffered space was added to DeKalb Ave east of Rockyford Rd for one block, creating more separation between the travel lane and the PATH.

Ensure a safe crossing for pedestrians at the Boulevard SE bridge sidewalk gap.

Crosswalks striped across the three sides of the DeKalb Ave / Boulevard SE intersection.

Depending on the direction of travel and destination, people could have to make three crossings here.

Reduce the speed limit on DeKalb Ave to 25 mph after the project is complete.

There is no mention of this in the plans and the design speed is 35 mph, but the speed limit could still be reduced.

Seek funding for Phase 2 — the Complete Street with a separated space for people walking, using wheelchairs, biking, scooting, etc. along the MARTA / railroad tracks — as soon as possible.

Phase 2 is in the design phase and we expect community engagement to follow. DeKalb Ave should be on the next TSPLOST (Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) list.


Watch: State Representative, Bee Nguyen, discusses DeKalb Ave during our “Walk the Walk” event in 2019:


Next Steps

There’s a groundbreaking for the DeKalb Ave project on September 22, 2021: 11:30 am at the Inman Park MARTA Station. We'll be present, and hope to see you there too!