Despite improvements, Decatur’s Candler St. drawing concern

During a recent interview Decatur Assistant City Manager David Junger said he’s spent “years working on South Candler [St.],” or the roughly 1.5 mile stretch from College Avenue to Pharr Road. Candler’s speed limit is 35 mph, but this stretch features two long hills down which motorists often speed up, sometimes considerably through a mostly residential corridor. During school hours numerous students and their parents cross the street both east and west and traverse the sidewalks on either side.

A Facebook group “Calm Candler,” organized several years ago, has become particularly vocal in recent weeks given four highly visible incidents within this corridor:

*In June a car passenger was shot and killed at the intersection of Candler and Midway Road.

*On Sept. 25 a speeding car struck a stopped mail truck on South Candler south of College.

*On Sept 27 a vehicle slammed into two cars stopped at a red light at the intersection of Candler and Midway, killing a 5-year-old Miles Jenness, a kindergarten student at Winnona Park.

*On Oct 1 there was a hit-and-run accident (no injuries) just south of College on Candler.

Although the two tragedies had nothing to do with Candler’s speed issues, all four incidents within a compressed duration have brought renewed attention to Candler. During last week’s city commission meeting several representatives of Calm Candler asked for increased safety measures.

Junger told the AJC that in the last year alone a pedestrian hybrid beacon has been built at East Davis Street and Candler; an improved crosswalk was constructed at Candler and Pharr Road; an improved crosswalk was built from soon-to-open Charis Bookstore to Agnes Scott College; a new rapid flashing beacon replaced the old one at East Dougherty Street and Candler; edge lines have been widened throughout the corridor.

In May the city conducted a speed study between College and East Dougherty showing 85 percent of the motorists traveled at 38 mph or less.

“Many of us would like to see the speed lowered on College, and maybe that can happen in the future,” Junger said. “But [Georgia Department of Transportation] engineers will tell you that study shows most people are driving the speed limit, at least as it currently stands.”

Candler is a state-owned road, and any changes, including lowering the speed limit, would need approving by GDOT.