Candler & McDonough Railroad Crossings Master Plan on Docket


View Decatur Railroad Crossing Improvements in a larger map

One of the key components of the city’s adopted Community Transportation Plan is improvements to all of Decatur’s confusing and unfriendly railroad crossings.  Tonight, the city commission votes on providing up to $267,000 to fund a master plan for future improvements where Candler and McDonough Street cross the CSX tracks.

According to a note from Asst. City Manager Hugh Saxon that is part of the materials (pdf) for tonight’s city commission meeting…

The work includes an extensive community participation and master planning effort. Specific improvements are dependent on approval of the master plan but will be designed to improve pedestrian accessibility and safety around and across the two CSX railroad crossings in downtown Decatur.

To be a bit more specific about what might be addressed by this projected $1.5 million construction project, here are the stated problems of each of these intersections according to the transportation plan.

Candler @ CSX Tracks

The intersection is too complex and intimidating for most pedestrians and bicyclists. In particular, the “Path” on the northwest corner is circuitous in that three street crossings are required just to avoid the most obvious direct crossing of Trinity Place parallel to the railroad tracks. Some crossings do not meet the minimum requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. None of these are “complete streets” as they do not include adequate facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.

The left-turn movement across the railroad tracks from northbound Candler Street to westbound Howard Avenue is problematic and contributes to a vehicular crash history that is higher than at any other intersection in Decatur. Residents living south and southeast of downtown are not likely to walk across this intersection unless they must.

McDonough @ CSX Tracks

The intersection is too complex and intimidating for most pedestrians and bicyclists. In particular, the “Path” on the northwest and northeast corners can be confusing to first-time visitors. Some crossings do not meet the minimum requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. None of these are “complete streets” as they do not include adequate facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists.

The left-turn movement across the railroad tracks from northbound McDonough Street to westbound Howard Avenue is problematic and contributes to a vehicular crash history that is higher than most other intersections in Decatur. Residents living south of downtown are not likely to walk across this intersection unless they must.

For even more specifics on actual physical improvement recommendations to these intersections, see pages 12-18 (pdf) of the “Streets” section of the Community Transportation Plan or click either of the two blue “placemarks” in the map above..

10 thoughts on “Candler & McDonough Railroad Crossings Master Plan on Docket”


    1. That stretch is definitely part of the existing downtown streetscape plans. I think it’s waiting on funding, but the commitment is there. Lyn?

    2. My understanding is that section of McDonough will be included in the Phase 3 of the streetscape plan. Don’t get excited, Phase 2 has been stalled at GDOT for 2 years.

      1. Yep, it’s in the plans. We’ve actually completed Phase I, II and III of the downtown streetscape program using Transportation Enhancement grants from the Georgia Dept. of Transportation. We received another TE grant to complete an additional phase along E. Trinity from Chick Fil A to the Old Depot. This phase also includes improvements along Church Street from Trinity south to the railroad tracks. It’s this grant that’s been stalled in the review process at GaDOT. We also received grants during that same round to install streetscape improvements in the Oakhurst business district and add bicycle lanes along W. Trinity and W. Ponce de Leon. These grants are also stalled in the review process. The cost for the proposed streetscape improvements along N. McDonough between the railroad tracks and Chick Fil A exceed the TE grant limit. We submitted it to the Atlanta Regional Commission during their last Livable Centers (LCI) grant round. We weren’t successful but plan to keep trying! Introducing streetscape improvements along that stretch will be major improvement and create a much needed pedestrian link between downtown Decatur and the neighborhoods around Agnes Scott.

  1. Ok, if I’m reading things correctly, I’m rather dreading some aspects of the implementation. In the current version of the plans for traffic flow, left turns onto Howard will be prohibited both for north bound Candler and McDonough streets. This creates an odd dead zone on Howard if you are south of the tracks.

    For example, you are at Agnes Scott and you are looking to go to Thinking Man’s. You will either need to go over to Commerce to Howard or down College to Atlanta Ave and back track. In both cases, you are getting funneled into areas with fairly substantial traffic.

    Now, I live in Winnona Park and I would love to see some improvements to the Candler intersection but not being able to get to Howard is really going to be a pain. This also means that a substantial amount of the Howard traffic that you see in the morning is now going to be on College, with its single westbound lane by Agnes Scott.

  2. I hope this project also improves safety for pedestrians using the crosswalk to the pedestrian tunnel under the railroad tracks. I think a pedestrian island there might be helpful. It would at least give a space to rest between the sprinting needed to cross here.

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