For more than a decade, Karen Fain has been trying to get sidewalks on her street, a .7-mile section of Carter Road between Memorial Drive and Columbia Drive.
“Safety of the pedestrians should be paramount,” Fain said.
The road was designed as a neighborhood road. Now, it has several MARTA stops and is used by many as a cut-through to get to The Friends School, Waldorf School, Avondale High School and Avondale Middle School.
Drivers also use the road to avoid the traffic at the Memorial Drive-Columbia Drive intersection.
Residents can’t access the street by foot without having to jump out of the road to avoid cars, Fain said. When she wants to take her two children to her neighborhood park, which is a mile away from her house, Fain drives.
“Neighbors are fearful about the kids playing in the front yards,” Fain said.
Fain said there is no safe place for those waiting at MARTA bus stops or walking to school bus stops. Several years ago, traffic calming devices were installed on the street.
“Cars speed and slow down for the hump and then speed up again,” Fain said.
In February, Fain requested a study of Carter Road to review the changes in the pattern of traffic in the hope that the road would be reclassified from a “local residential road” to a “collector road.” She was told this reclassification is necessary for Carter Road to be considered for sidewalks. In an e-mail, a county employee told her to allow two weeks for that study to be completed.
Ted Rhinehart, the county’s deputy chief operating officer for infrastructure, said, “If we pursue classification [of Carter Road] to a collector street, they understand that it would no longer be eligible for the speed tables.
“We notified the residents that if they wanted to pursue local funding for sidewalks, we would need to know from the property owners who signed petitions for traffic calming whether… they are OK with that change,” Rhinehart said.
Rhinehart said the county currently does not have any money in the budget for new sidewalks.
“We’re just still working on projects that had some federal matching money from years back.”
On April 5, Fain received an e-mail from a supervising engineer in the county’s transportation division stating that the sidewalk was included in a list of possible Transportation Investment Act (TIA) projects.
Last year, Georgia’s legislature enacted the TIA, which provides for a regional referendum in 2012. In this referendum, voters in the Atlanta metropolitan area will be able to vote on a penny-sales tax to fund various transportation projects, including transit, roadway, safety, bicycle and pedestrian improvements.
The Carter Road sidewalk project is now being reviewed by the Georgia Department of Transportation. If approved in June by Todd Long, GDOT’s planning director, the project will be included in a unconstrained list of recommendations to the regional transportation roundtable, made up of representatives from each Atlanta area county. The roundtable will review those recommendations and by October must finalize a financially constrained list to be presented to voters next year.
Until then, Fain and her neighbors will have to continue dodging cars.
“It’s dangerous,” Fain said. “I can’t enjoy my street. The neighborhood is not conducive to having kids.”