Atlanta mayor says city needs more money for safer roads

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

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Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens on Thursday said the city’s transportation department needs more resources to establish safer roads.

Dickens said the department needs more equipment as the city updates its road striping, streetlights, and street signals. He spoke to the media shortly after touring the Atlanta Department of Transportation’s Claire Drive Facility — where the signs, signals, and lights are produced.

ATLDOT Commissioner Josh Rowan said the city needs to purchase more fiber optic cables to synchronize its 1,000 traffic signals. The works falls under the City’s Vision Zero initiative — a 1990s Swedish policy designed to eliminate traffic fatalities and injuries by reducing vehicular speeds, among other strategies.

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“I want them to have a fiber optic network and be connected back to a central nervous system where we can adjust these things and improve them or fix them without having to go out and drive to the actual location,” Dickens said.

“A smart city approach is on the way.”

Atlanta City Council in 2020 OK’d a 25 mph default speed limit in the city as part of the initiative. The city began work to replace nearly 1,000 speed limit signs on more than 300 streets last year. Rowan said 50% of that work is completed.

During the tour, Dickens signed a #Drive25 pledge created by the department to encourage residents to obey the new speed limit. Afterward, Rowan told the media the city is looking into ways to use technology for traffic enforcement instead of solely relying on the Atlanta Police Department.

“Drive 25 [mph] from City Hall to Lenox Mall on Peachtree and you’ll get there at the exact same time as the person who’s speeding because our lights are essentially synced for 20 to 25 miles an hour,” Rowan said.

“We have a lot of red light racers. You’re wasting gas, you’re wasting your brakes, and you’re stressing yourself out for no good reason. 25 will do just fine.”

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