For years, the City of Avondale Estates conducted studies, made plans, and drew up proposals to reconfigure the scar known as U.S. 278. This highway also serves as Avondale’s Main Street, bisecting its commercial core from the residential areas of the city. U.S 278 begins in western Arkansas and terminates somewhere on Hilton Head Island, but it’s used primarily as a local commuter route from the eastern parts of Metro Atlanta to job centers in Decatur and Atlanta; backups are a predictable way of life during the morning and afternoon rush.
The scapegoat for why these ambitious plans to turn U.S. 287 (a.k.a. E. College Ave) into a smaller Main Street languished has long been the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT). Avondale’s vision is to make downtown more pedestrian-friendly by redesigning how the shops, parking, sidewalks, etc. interact with the heavily-trafficked highway, primarily by reducing the number of lanes. Avondale’s foil, GDOT, (sometimes referred to as the Georgia Department of Roads due to their lack of attention to multi-modal forms of transportation), expressed little interest in proposed “road diets.”
“The Georgia Department of Transportation has long been reluctant toward any scheme slowing traffic along state roads.” AJC – 9/27/16
However, in a surprising turn of events, GDOT recently reconsidered and the city announced they will move forward with plans to reduce U.S. 278 from two lanes in each direction to one lane in each direction, as well as fewer turn lanes. This announcement also predicts wider sidewalks, fewer curb cuts, and improved pedestrian access in general.
The announcement does not include detailed plans, maps, or renderings, so I’ve yet to see if the road diet only applies to the downtown district, or if the changes will affect the road through the entire span of Avondale to Sams Crossing. If it does, presumably the City of Decatur will try to get in on the action and continue the road diet on their stretch. A portion of the highway through Decatur is already reduced to two lanes in front of Agnes Scott College.
The effect of a 287 road diet on Lanier Gardens remains to be seen. But this development, along with the under-construction-as-of-this-writing South City Partners development across the street will likely turn more eyes to the park. To wit, I’ve seen a huge uptick in traffic on this blog in recent weeks.
I’d love to know what brought you here! Please leave a comment to say how you came upon this blog and any thoughts you have on Lanier Gardens Park. Thanks!