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Georgia DOT: Add Trail Network & Complete the Streets with the 400/285 Projects

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Subject: Separated Bike/Ped Facilities (Multi-Use Trails/Paths) & On-Street Bicycle Facilities Design for Projects:

I-285/SR 400 Interchange Reconstruction P.I. # 0000784

SR 400 Collector-Distributor (CD) Lanes P.I. # 721850

GDOT Project info site, click HERE

For the above mentioned projects, we strongly recommend and encourage the Georgia Department of Transportation to:

1.      Build a Multi-Use Path along the project boundaries for dedicated separated bicycle/pedestrian facilities Greenway along both GA-400 & I-285. The GA-400 trail would eventually link to the south to the PATH400 trail in Buckhead running along the GA-400 ROW (planned to connect to the Atlanta Beltline), and north into the Roswell & Alpharetta trail network. Along I-285, the trails will provide connectivity from the heart of Perimeter CID into their work-in-progress “Commuter Trail Plan” network where over 100,000 employees work each day; eastward to Dunwoody, Chamblee and the redevelopment-in-progress former GM plant in Doraville; south to Medical Center MARTA and Brookhaven; and west to the new Sandy Springs City Center and commuters from East Cobb. As a minimum, with formal coordination with the PATH Foundation, leaving accommodation within each project space for a future Multi-Use Trail to be built; designating in project design documents the physical space allocated for the trail.

2.       Follow urban-setting best practices and context-sensitive bicycle facilities for on-street segments of the project areas, including all bridges. Insure facilities follow the GDOT Complete Street Design Policy & Manual and allow the use of the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide (adopted by the City of Atlanta) for these facilities and minimize or eliminate the use of “Sidepaths”, and instead use “Cycle Tracks” aka “Protected Bicycle Lanes”. Refer to the “Green Lane Project” for use within the US.

3.       With the Diverging Diamond Interchange at Abernathy & SR-400, build continuous bicycle and pedestrian pathways separated from vehicular traffic with grade separated undercrossings at the freeway ramps. This will be a dedicated, separated Multi-Use Path that is outside the motor vehicle travel space. One will be running north & south along SR-400. The other will run east & west on Abernathy. Refer to the US-50 interchange in Sacramento, California that was opened in 2014 for an example.

4.       Build sidewalks on streets along all segments

5.       Hold planning review meetings with appropriate GDOT Staff, Engineers and Stakeholders including Georgia Bikes, ARC Bike/Ped Planners and the PATH Foundation; to ensure these items are incorporated into each project’s design and approved by GDOT Senior officials, as well as the respective jurisdictions.

Why should the Georgia Department of Transportation take these actions?

Providing these safe accommodations will lead to increased commerce and jobs, reduce on-street motor vehicle congestion, increase adjacent residential property values, improve public health and attract & retain employee talent -- especially Millennials who insist on these amenities -- which will comprise 75% of the workforce by 2025.

In Georgia, 81% of respondents to a GOHS / UGA survey either strongly agreed or agreed that they would ride a bicycle more frequently if their community had better bicycle facilities such as bike lanes or multi-use paths.

The adjoining cities of Sandy Springs, Brookhaven and Dunwoody have a combined population of nearly 200,000 people. Nearly fifty percent of all trips in metropolitan areas in the United States are three miles or less and 28 percent are one mile or less – distances easily covered by foot or bicycle. SR-400 & I-285 are considered as barriers to many persons who may wish to choose a non-motorized transportation option to go to work in the Perimeter area each day. With even a single-digit percentage mode shift away from motor vehicle commuters to bicycle or pedestrian transportation, congestion mitigation can be attained.

These projects are in great part being built to accommodate future growth in a Transit Oriented Design region. Accordingly, the GDOT Complete Streets policy mandates accommodation of multi-use paths, sidewalks and bike lanes throughout. Applying safe Multi-Modal options for pedestrians and bicyclists last mile connectivity of “Safe Routes to Transit” with access to the three MARTA rail transit stations and get to their offices can ease on-street motor vehicle congestion. To build the project in the heart of a TOD without fully accommodating the alternative modes will greatly shortchange the project achieving its goals. In contrast, incorporating these alternative modes as we suggest will both achieve the project goals and serve as a national model.

References, examples and supporting information can be found at this site:

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