Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to get facelift from federal grant

Atlanta has accepted a federal grant to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists who rely on a seven-mile stretch of a key east-west corridor.

Atlanta City Council members on Tuesday voted to allow the city to accept a $2.67-million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to make changes to Martin Luther King Jr. Drive from Northside Drive west to Fulton Industrial Boulevard. Changes planned include improved traffic signals, raised medians, new sidewalks, multi-use trails, updated pedestrian crossings, street lighting, bus shelters and public art displays.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Drive Innovation Corridor Project is designed to make the street more welcoming to walkers, cyclists and vehicular traffic. The feds awarded the grant through its TIGER Discretionary Grant Program. This latest grant is in addition to the $10 million Atlanta received from US DOT in 2016 for the project.

City of Atlanta spokesman Michael Smith said the $44.2-million project will also install bicycle infrastructure on MLK from Northside to Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard. He said the project is “expected to spur economic growth along the corridor.”

The project also calls for gateway signage on the eastern and western sides of the corridor at two I-20 underpasses and I-285 overpasses, resurfacing and restriping along the roadway from Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard to Ollie Street, Florida Avenue to Barfield Avenue and parts of Gordon Road and Delmar Lane.

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Users can also expect a new multi-use path and pedestrian amenities in front of Westview Cemetery; a linear park and multi-use paths on the north side of the roadway from Peyton Place to Lynhurst Drive; and raised medians, pedestrian islands, upgraded traffic signals and beacon signals from Fulton Industrial to Ollile Street.

The city expects the project will be completed by summer 2020.

According to the city's project update for August, sidewalks, medians and granite curbing on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive are "substantially complete" between Northside Drive and Tattnall Street. Paving is planned on the drive between Northside and Ollie Street.

Crews are in the process of relocating utilities to new poles around Mozley Park and utility relocation and drainage construction is underway at Fairfield Curve between Florida and Barfield avenues.