‘Relief’ comes to Hollowell Parkway as crosswalk installed on deadly stretch of road

Bicyclist Rolanda Powell waits to merge onto Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway from Center Hill Avenue in Atlanta. Rolanda Powell, head of her neighborhood organization, has been raising concerns about the safety of Hollowell Parkway. A crosswalk is now located at this intersection. (Photo/Rebecca Wright for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Rebecca Wright

Credit: Rebecca Wright

Bicyclist Rolanda Powell waits to merge onto Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway from Center Hill Avenue in Atlanta. Rolanda Powell, head of her neighborhood organization, has been raising concerns about the safety of Hollowell Parkway. A crosswalk is now located at this intersection. (Photo/Rebecca Wright for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

The state has installed a new pedestrian crosswalk along a stretch of Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway in Atlanta that has seen multiple pedestrian fatalities.

Residents in the area, especially in the Center Hill and Grove Park neighborhoods, have been pushing for state officials to add safe pedestrian crossings to a mile-long stretch of Hollowell that has none. Since the road is a state highway, the Georgia Department of Transportation, rather than the city, makes the calls about substantial improvements and installations.

Last January, GDOT promised to add three new pedestrian crosswalks with lighted beacons along the mile-long stretch. The first one was not scheduled to be installed until May 2021, but GDOT spokeswoman Natalie Dale said the contractor on this project finished early.

Hollowell, which is four lanes wide and sees a lot of truck traffic, is considered one of the most dangerous corridors in the city by groups like the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition. It connects Midtown to I-285 in northwest Atlanta.

In September, two people crossing Hollowell were struck and killed in a span of four days.

About a month later, on Oct. 6, another person was killed, according to Atlanta Police Department Major Kelley Collier, the commander for the police zone where Hollowell is located. The main precinct for the zone is located along Hollowell, on the stretch with no pedestrian crossings.

He said the new crosswalk is a “relief.”

“It makes us feel happy that our residents will be safe as they go their destinations,” Collier said in an interview. “This is essential to their safety.”

In recent months, APD has ramped up traffic enforcement along the corridor. Collier said the department put up a speed monitor, which tells drivers how fast they’re going, and brought in a special operations unit to do traffic enforcement.

“This goes to show how different layers of government, city and state, have to work together to solve problems on state highways that run through our city,” Collier said.

Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway has seen several fatalities in recent years. (Photo/Rebecca Wright for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Rebecca Wright

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Credit: Rebecca Wright

Atlanta City Councilman Dustin Hillis, who represents the area, tweeted a photo of the new crosswalk post and set of lights installed at Center Hill Avenue near the Johnnie B. Moore Towers, which offer senior housing.

“Much-needed & many years of advocacy behind this to eliminate the solid mile of no (pedestrian) crossings,” Hillis said in the tweet.

GDOT has not released a timeline for the other two crosswalks, slated for Woods Drive and Eugenia Place, but said in the fall that it planned to meet with the city to discuss right-of-way issues.

Hillis has said he hopes GDOT and the city will continue to study Hollowell and possibly institute a “road diet,” which can involve reducing lanes or converting them into turn lanes, to slow drivers. The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition is creating a committee of residents, workers and drivers in the area to study the issue and propose long-term safety solutions.

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