Decatur to resume planning for new intersection at Adair/West Howard/College

This is West Howard Avenue in Decatur looking east with complicated "curly S" intersection in the background right. That area will eventually get turned to green space with construction of a new intersection involving the extension of Adair Street. Bill Banks file photo for the AJC
This is West Howard Avenue in Decatur looking east with complicated "curly S" intersection in the background right. That area will eventually get turned to green space with construction of a new intersection involving the extension of Adair Street. Bill Banks file photo for the AJC

Decatur’s set to resume planning for a new and far simpler intersection on the city’s west side, with the extension of Adair Street across West Howard Avenue and the railroad tracks before emptying into West College Avenue.

A virtual open house and workshop is slated for December 9, 6-8 p.m. More information including an agenda and how to sign up will be available after Thanksgiving but residents can stay updated by going to https://www.decaturga.com/cmo/page/railroad-crossing-improvements-atlanta-avenue.

The current intersection, just east of Adair, is one of the city’s oddest, once described as a “curly S” by former City Manager Peggy Merriss. Turning off College and Atlanta Avenue and after crossing the tracks, the intersection splits, going right and emptying into east bound West Howard, and left into west bound West Howard.

This complicated arrangement gets eliminated with that area turned to green space in the new plan. Part of the Dec. 9 meeting includes discussions on improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists, straightening the Atlanta-Stone Mountain PATH, traffic calming, landscape features and streetscape amenities.

“There’s a lot of things happening at that intersection, a lot of confusion, with people looking in different directions,” said Deputy City Manager Hugh Saxon. “We’ve had two recent accidents [involving bicycles and cars] this fall, though no serious injuries. Bottom line, that area will be a lot safer when we get this down, especially for pedestrians and cyclists.”

Reconstructing this area has been publicly discussed by the city commission since at least 2016, and money was officially earmarked for the project with the passage of DeKalb County’s SPLOST in Nov. 2017. At that time the anticipated cost was $5 million.

After several months of open houses in 2018-19, in August 2019, the commission approved a concept plan for improvements. This includes the extension of Adair to a simplified straight-T intersection and adding a modern traffic signal at Adair/Howard and Adair/College.

The project, both the fine tuning and implementation, has been delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Saxon believes construction should begin in 2022 and take about 18 months.

In Other News