Paces Clairemont Development To Fund Bike Lanes on Commerce Drive

publicway commerce

From the meeting materials from tonight’s Decatur City Commission meeting regarding “approval of revised public way, temporary and permanent easements for proposed development at 160 Clairemont Avenue”…

Paces will be responsible for all costs, including the City’s legal fees, associated with the preparation of the easements. In addition to the required streetscape improvements along Commerce Drive, Paces is building a new sidewalk and providing trees and landscape improvements along Montgomery Street between Commerce and Clairemont, and installing new bike lanes on Commerce between Clairemont and West Ponce de Leon that are recommended by the City’s Community Transportation Plan.
Public way exhibit from Commission meeting materials

30 thoughts on “Paces Clairemont Development To Fund Bike Lanes on Commerce Drive”

  1. Has any thought been given to crosswalks in that area, possibly with a traffic light? Daily, I see pedestrians crossing Commerce Drive between its intersection with West Ponce de Leon Avenue and its intersection with Clairemont Avenue who are in danger of being fatalities as they dash across four lanes of traffic.

      1. In the proposed Citywide Speed Limit plan, Commerce Dr is slated to become a 25MPH road. Hopefully, we’ll be getting an update from the City on the status of this plan soon.

    1. One thing that contributes to that problem is that the Fidelity office building rents parking from the Baptist church across Commerce. This new project will include a mid block garage large enough for all their space so, presumably, in the future no one will need to cross the street to get from their parking space to their office.

      1. But people who live in the Artisan Phase 2 building and those who will be living in the new building on Commerce don’t want to have to walk all the way down to Commerce and Ponce to get to CVS. A crosswalk or traffic light would be really helpful there.

        1. Then those people need to say something at one of these meetings.

          There are some areas where it is not good to have pedestrian crossings no matter the speed of cars. The curve in Commerce may be one of those areas, especially since it is between two existing signalized pedestrian crossings.

          Some folks just might have to walk a bit farther to cross.

        2. They may be operating foolishly, possibly risking their own lives but, since they’re not jaywalking according to Georgia law, maybe *more* of this type of crazy, legal behavior, rather than less, is exactly what we need to slow traffic on a permanent basis!

          1. With due respect to Scott, what you said at 3:11 p.m. today is absurd. Else, I don’t understand the intended humor.

        3. “But people who live in the Artisan Phase 2 building and those who will be living in the new building on Commerce don’t want to have to walk all the way down to Commerce and Ponce to get to CVS. A crosswalk or traffic light would be really helpful there.”

          Isn’t that CVS at the corner of Commerce and W Ponce? The crosswalk would save you a total of what, 20 yards worth of walking? Or do I have my directions all crossed up?

          1. Yeah, the CVS is on the corner, so I don’t see the reason for having another crossing before the Ponce/ Commerce intersection–except that I think some people avoid that crosswalk because it takes so long to get a walk signal (guilty here, but I’m still able to scoot across the street at a decent clip.)

  2. There’s still no mention of the need for additional public input on the Clairemont-Commerce Complete Street plans. It’s as if Fred didn’t raise this at the last Commission Meeting. Of course if you go by the Minutes, Fred only asked “a” question and it’d be easy to come away thinking it was all settled.

    From 2/18 Commission Minutes (still to be approved):
    In response to a question from Commissioner Boykin, Ms. Menne stated that the proposed road diet on Commerce Drive was consistent with the City’s “Complete Streets” philosophy” and was included in the recommendations from the Community Transportation Plan. Ms. Menne noted that the proposed change would be very similar to what had been constructed on Commerce Drive in front of the Decatur Housing Authority property. Ms. Menne noted that the improvements would be complementary to the intersection improvements at Clairemont Avenue and Commerce Drive.

    2/18 Streaming video:

    Click on Item IV B. 160 Clairemont project starts at 4 minute mark. At 6:10 mark, Fred asks several questions.

    (The Minutes also don’t accurately reflect who said what. Peggy Merriss made the remark about the improvements being complementary.)

    1. From watching the meeting, it appears Fred was asking about the relationship between the Commerce changes in conjunction with this new development and the proposed Commerce-Church changes one block to the east.

      Lyn and Peggy answered that the Commerce changes at 160 Clairemont were short-term in nature and the Church Street improvements would still get more public input.

      Looks to me like the changes proposed to Commerce adjacent to this development are supported by the 2007 transportation plan.

      1. I highly doubt that the bike lanes are a temporary proposition, but I could be wrong. Perhaps DM will be kind enough to try to catch Hugh Saxon to clarify exactly what the City’s seeking.

        What I do know is that at the last public input workshop to show the initial Commerce Dr and Church St Complete Streets concepts, we were told that additional public input meetings would be held. While what’s being proposed in tonight’s agenda item may mesh well with the City’s Community Transportation Plan, the City has never come out and stated that the CTP trumps all. A good many folks I know weren’t happy with the concepts that showed taking away lanes on Commerce Dr. and wanted to revisit it. For this item to be back on the very next agenda with no mention of the bike lanes still needing public input doesn’t sit well with me. Does the City value our input or not? If they don’t, then they should be upfront and say it and stop paying all these consulting firms to hold what’s increasingly starting to seem like “just to say we did it” public input sessions. It’s been mentioned on here before that it often feels like there’s a predetermined outcome that we’re just guided to reach. I hope it’s not the case. More important, I hope that our Commissioners are feeling the same growing uneasiness that I am over some of things that have popped on some of the newer development projects going on. Something somewhere is not quite right. That makes it all the more critical that we’re able to count on our Commissioners to thoroughly scrutinize what’s being presented before signing off on it.

        1. I’m not saying the bike lanes are temporary. I’m saying that their construction would happen in the near term, due to this development coming about.

          The changes will occur at Commerce & Clairmont before any changes at Commerce & Church. And it sounds like there will be additional public meetings to figure out what to do on Church.

          Why adopt and publish a comprehensive transportation plan if you aren’t going to attempt to follow its recommendations? I know plans can go out of date quickly, but nothing that is happening now (at least at this location) appears to go against the assumptions in the 2007 document.

          1. Rival, I agree the CTP has value. I’m pretty sure you’d agree that traffic has changed considerably since it was written and will continue to increase with all the downtown residential planned, so we’d do well to factor that in. We may have to just agree to disagree on how changing Commerce Dr will affect traffic. I strongly feel this is the start of the implementation of the entire Commerce Dr road diet and that the road diet is going to have undesirable results, including clogging up traffic flow and likely shifting a good bit of through traffic onto downtown and nearby residential streets. It’s my preference that we focus on making those streets the more pedestrian and bicyclist friendly ones and keep through travelers on Commerce. That doesn’t mean that we don’t improve the intersections or sidewalks along Commerce– it just means we don’t take out two lanes for a road diet.

            My main point is that it very much feels like the City has decided to plunge ahead without allowing for the additional public input. I appreciate that you pushed me to locate this 2012 DM post and reread the City Commission Meeting documents in it. From Hugh Saxon’s 7/27/12 memo (and to be clear, I think highly of Hugh):

            Public workshops for residents, business owners, property owners and members of Decatur’s bicycle community were held in September and January to introduce the project to the public and to obtain comments and suggestions about needed improvements. Concepts receiving support include shortening walking distances and eliminating traffic conflicts at the 2 intersections, implementing a road diet on Commerce Drive, and providing a 2-way bike track or a multi-use trail on Church Street while reducing it permanently to 2 vehicle lanes with on-street parking. A conceptual traffic circle was discussed for the intersection at Church Street, Forkner Drive and Medlock and future land use options for the commercial blocks between Clairemont and Church immediately north of Commerce Drive were illustrated.

            Commerce Drive and Clairemont Avenue are state routes. We are still discussing the possible Commerce Drive road diet with GDOT but have been encouraged by ARC to submit the scoping study so that the project can be included in ARC’s Transportation Improvement Program for next year. Additional public meetings are planned as the project design is refined.


            Also, CTP’s Complete Streets description for Clairemont/Commerce/Church:

            1. Deanne, your points are well taken. But don’t forget that you can email your commissioners and city staff at any time. Keep in mind that any public input session will have advocates for and against your position. You might get a better response by sending a letter directly.

              I do believe, however, that you’re fighting a rising tide on the issue of road diets. Every planning process over the past 10 years has resulted in a desire to expand downtown’s footprint out to Commerce. This development is a big step in that direction, and I imagine it’s only a matter of time before the Bank of America and adjacent Wells Fargo parking lot are developed as well.

                1. rising tide? I’m with you Deanne. Just how far are we willing to go to thoroughly clog up downtown Decatur. Its gotten significantly worse with the recent road diets on major streets.

                  1. The thing is – you can’t have it both ways. You complain about “clogged” streets and someone else complains about how unsafe it is for pedestrians on Commerce because cars are going too fast. If you build a street that allows cars to go 50 mph, which is how Commerce was built, then don’t be surprised when cars go 50 mph. And then don’t be surprise when it’s impossible to make that street safe for bikes and pedestrians. So we have to decide – do we want a “beltway” around downtown with cars going really fast? If so, then that undermines our goal of having a walkable city because you’re creating a cement moat around downtown to keep out pedestrians. If we build roads for cars to go really fast on, then we become like every other downtown in metro Atlanta that is boring, bland and has a hard time attracting businesses and customers.

                    We’ve been successful by making our downtown more, not less, pedestrian friendly – that is what we are known for – a walkable downtown and city at a human scale. If your goal is to move cars faster in Decatur, then you are throwing all of this out the window. We should not try to eliminate cars all together, they need to have their place, but they must also find a place in our traffic hierarchy, with the understanding that by prioritizing bikes and peds we have established an viable and successful economic development strategy.

                    1. You may be right. From my side of town, Oakhurst, its getting easier to get to Edgewood Retail than downtown Decatur (in spite of Edgewood’s atrocious parking lot). I must admit my shopping is more practical: groceries, drug store, hardware sort of stuff, not what Decatur is aiming for anyway. Fortunately I don’t have to commute through Decatur (the other side of the problem), but many people do. I’ll leave that issue to them to weigh in on.

                    2. A road diet isn’t required to slow down traffic on Commerce Dr. It sure shouldn’t be the first option the City tries. The City’s spent many (many) months working on the Citywide Speed Limit plan and Commerce Dr is slated to be reduced to 25MPH. All of the streets have been categorized and mapped, the City’s proposal to GDOT and Dept of Public Safety is pretty much ready to go, and residents have been asked for their opinions about it at numerous meetings (workshops, neighborhood meetings, Neighborhood Alliance to name a few) and online since early last summer. Monday night I asked Lena Stevens (staff lead for it) if her new Google Fiber project assignment is going to put this one on the back burner. Without hesitation, Lena said no and added that a question about it is included in the City’s mailed survey now underway. Based on what David Junger and Lena told Decatur Heights neighbors during their Oct meeting with us on All Things Speed Limit related (also attended by Mike Booker, Keith Lee, John Madajewski, John Maximuk, Fred Boykin, and Scott Drake), their plan was to take it to the City Commission in Feb or March. I’d think that means that they intend to do it as soon as the presentation is updated to include the survey results. Can”t imagine that will take long at all.

                      I’d think the majority of folks are in favor of safer crosswalks. A road diet isn’t required to accomplish that goal either. Simply assessing other options just like the City does for many other locations, while not as exciting, should allow for another solution that will work out just fine.

                      Perhaps DM will be kind enough to inquire about both the City’s plans for continued public input for the C-C Plans and on when the Citywide Speed Limit proposal will be going before the City Commission for approval to proceed with submitting it to GDOT and GA DHS. It’d make our discussion more productive to hear directly from the City on it..

                    3. Commerce can’t stay 5 lanes+, and be safe for pedestrians and bikes. At that size cars will go 50 mph regardless of what the signs say. Commerce does not have a consistent flow of heavy traffic. The benefits of the road diet on Commerce far outweigh keeping all the lanes for the cars that make the road busy for a total of less than an hour in a day. The road is over-engineered right now – it’s too wide for the average daily trips it handles, it’s dangerous because it’s too wide and its width flies in the face of our goals as a city. Other than that, it’s perfect. And when we have a private sector entity ready to pay for its remedies, then we are in a great position to make the fix.

                    4. Why, I do believe you’ve just thrown out a challenge to Officer Lindsay and the DPD! :0)

                      On the rest, I’d still like to hear back from the City on whether they intend to complete the public input process before making any permanent changes to Commerce Dr. DM, do you have in a request for info on it?

  3. This area of Commerce definitely needs some “traffic calming”. People speed around the curve, making it very dangerous to pull out of the parking areas on either side. A mid-block garage will just make for more cars pulling out in front of the speeders.

  4. I’m probably slow but for the life of me I can’t figure out exactly what part of Commerce is in the diagram above.

    1. The diagram doesn’t show Commerce. It shows Montgomery Street, which is currently the service alley next to the Artisan that connects back past the Marriott to Clairemont. In addition to tweaking the right of way slightly, these changes will make that thruway a little more street-like and ped-friendly.

    2. You are supposed to be able to tell by: DB. 22478 PG. 92 TPID: 15-246-94-127. Clear? I’ve decided that the T in the box stands for teller so the top of the schematic is north as one would face if one were to drive through the drive-through tellers to Commerce. But I totally made that up.

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