A portion of the 197 planter boxes lining West Howard Avenue looking east toward the complicated Atlanta Avenue/railroad tracks/College Avenue intersection. Those boxes currently empty will receive a wildflower mix in the coming weeks. The Atlanta-Stone Mountain PATH trail is on the far right. Bill Banks for the AJC

Decatur’s West Howard planter boxes remain rooted for indefinite period

Decatur Assistant City Manager David Junger admits receiving the occasional thumbs-down to the planter boxes lining West Howard Avenue stretching one mile from the city limits east to North McDonough Street.

But Junger says they’re not going away anytime soon. There are a total 197 containers, some with crepe myrtle trees and maple, the remaining receiving a wildflower mix in the coming weeks.

Last August the city completed its “Reimagine West Howard Avenue” project, which included restriping the corridor, cutting it from four to two lanes, adding new midblock crossings at Drexel Avenue and Greenwood Circle and new pedestrian signals at Atlanta Avenue/West Howard.

“The purpose was to slow down cars and make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists,” Junger said. “We also wanted to make it easier for pedestrians to cross the street while providing [with the planters] an additional buffer between [Howard] and [the Atlanta-Stone Mountain] trail [on Howard’s south side].”

The reconfiguration cost $283,466. Junger estimates a more sophisticated upgrade, including a new curb line on both sides and filling in the two unused lanes, could cost from $3 to $4 million.

The city is moving ahead with rebuilding the complicated and troublesome intersection at Atlanta Avenue/West Howard/West College Avenue that also includes railroad tracks. As that project nears completion—which could take two to three years—the city might consider more improvements on the one-mile stretch of West Howard.

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