Fix the Traffic Light for Our Safety: A Message from Concerned Decatur Residents

The city of Decatur has undergone many infrastructural changes over the past few years, which we have both witnessed as students at Agnes Scott.

In 2015, construction began on the mixed-use Arlo-Decatur apartment building between Trinity Place, Howard Avenue and Church Street by Centro Development LLC. It is said be be a part of the apartment construction boom in Atlanta. Its construction was finalized near the end of 2017. Just down the way, there are plans for a street expansion for bike lanes made in front of Decatur High School. This project also took quite some time to complete; the expansion of North McDonough Street began in September 2016 and was completed around October of 2017. It is a part of the Decatur PATH Connectivity Plan, which will include North McDonough Street in bike paths throughout the city. It also has 17 bio infiltration waterbeds to catch runoff from the hilly road. This is one of the first green infrastructure systems in Metro Atlanta.

Therefore, it was no surprise to see the beginning work of a new traffic light system at the intersection of South Candler Street and East College Avenue. The fact remains that the new light system has been sitting inactive for months. According to Decaturish, the light near Avery Glenn Apartments is a part of the revitalization efforts to improve roads near the railroad. However, since “E College Ave” is a state road, the Georgia Department of Transportation must approve the light before engineers can activate the new system. Therefore, both the City of Decatur officials and Dekalb County Engineers must wait for state approval to activate the light. According to the Deputy City Manager of the City of Decatur Hugh Saxon, the city is awaiting  a “new controller (the box that houses the technology to run the system), additional signal heads,  and preparation of a new signal timing plan for each intersection,” all provided by the State of Georgia. While the city awaits the new equipment, the intersection remains extremely dangerous.

Last semester, a vehicle attempting to take a left onto South Candler Street from East College Ave hit a student from Agnes Scott. Several things went wrong that day. First, the driver could not take a protected left because the active light system does not provide a left arrow. Second, the inactive system skewed any clear view to the driver had of the green light. The third, and most dangerous, was the blind turn into the pedestrian crosswalk. Drivers can not see Scotties who cross from the Blue Hanger corner towards Agnes. The very crosswalk that every student living in Avery Glenn, and moreover any student that visits Piece of Cake or Ebrik, uses to exit campus. On her way to class, the student crossed the street when the blue walking man appeared on the display across the street. While the accident was not deadly, it had the potential to have been much worse. The dangerous intersection will be safer with the new light system. However, the efficiency issues at the City, County, and State level have created these dangerous conditions close to Agnes Scott.