The August 10, 2022 meeting of Atlanta City Council's Transportation Committee marked the first time interim ATLDOT Commissioner Marsha Bomar appeared before the committee. Unfortunately, one of the first things she had to do was share the tragic passing of Vision Zero program manager Kemberli Sargent in July 2022.
Kemberli was a highly respected and passionate leader on transportation safety issues in Atlanta. She came to the City after working at pedestrian safety organization, PEDS. Kemberli died of injuries sustained after she was hit by a driver under the influence while crossing the street with a group in Chattanooga.
How can we continue Kemberli's legacy of working to eliminate traffic deaths and injuries in the city? One type of action is coming from Atlanta City Councilmembers. There seems to have been a dramatic increase in stop sign and traffic calming legislation since the new City Council was elected last year. This week alone, there were 10 traffic calming requests and 12 new stop sign requests.
During her presentation, Commissioner Bomar also discussed funding opportunities that could create substantial change to Atlanta's transportation landscape. ATLDOT applied for $180 Million federal funding through the "Mega" grant for Campbellton Road transit to supplement the More MARTA project, and is working on grant applications for the Safe Streets 4 All program (Pryor and Central multimodal project/protected bike lanes) and bridges (Marietta Road).
They're also considering an application for the Reconnecting Communities Pilot program – a Lee Street multimodal corridor project. Several Councilmembers also expressed their support for the Stitch project and asked ATLDOT to submit a second application to Reconnecting Communities for it.
Atlanta needs the opportunities the Reconnecting Communities program provides. We recognize the need to address the damaging legacy of highways that were built in locations intentionally selected to displace Black residents and harm Black communities. While nothing can undo those harms, this program -- championed by Representative Nikema Williams -- is a start at redress. Supporting residents' desire for a more livable Lee Street is a long-standing priority for us.
ATLDOT is on a September 30th deadline to create a "strategic delivery plan" for implementing TSPLOST and bond transportation projects. The strategic delivery plan is intended to be a step towards more effective project delivery, something that is sorely needed and expected from a DOT, but has yet to be seen from our local agency.
They are developing ways to prioritize projects, while managing inflation concerns. Project bids are coming in significantly higher than the budget, so ATL DOT is seeking federal funds to help stretch the recently approved $750M TSPLOST and infrastructure bond. This sounds familiar from the previous TSPLOST and bond -- which had to go through a painful "re-baselining" process, in which the project list and scopes were cut back -- so that's something to keep an eye on.
Councilmember questions of note:
- CM Marci Collier Overstreet asked for a status report on the Cascade Road complete street project, noting that residents concerned since they don't see dirt moving on the project. The ATLDOT then shared this update on Cascade phase 1 as well as a similar update on DeKalb Ave safety improvements.
- CM Antonio Lewis encouraged ATLDOT to "be a shark" and go after every available federal dollar and make sure to include HBCUs as partners.
- CM Lewis and Committee Chair CM Amir Farokhi asked ATLDOT to include more information on sidewalks in their next presentation (there was just one bullet in the slides: "Sidewalk repairs – 6,000 LF" this year to date).
- CM Jason Dozier asked about location of new street lights and how his office can collaborate to make sure lights are installed in his district.
- CM Alex Wan asked ATLDOT to provide guidance on district project lists for the $3Million in TPSLOST council district discretionary funds. We're following up to ask how constituents can be involved in identifying these projects -- it will vary by district.
- CM Keisha Waites noted some potholes in her district are in constant need of repair. Bomar said there may be an underlying issue causing them to re-open after being filled and that ATLDOT would investigate.
You can watch a video of the full meeting on YouTube.