July 19, 2004

Transit study holds second workshop


By Michael Terrazas

The team conducting a comprehensive transit study for the Clifton Corridor Transportation Management Association (CCTMA) held its second public workshop on Thursday, July 8, to share its progress with citizens and stakeholders and gain their input.

Brian Shaw, Emory director of alternative transportation and CCTMA executive director, welcomed a crowd of about 30 to downtown Decatur's Maloof Auditorium, then turned the meeting over to study consultants Miriam Cummings and Joel Putterman. Putterman, of Jacobs Consulting, is the lead consultant on the project and began his presentation by saying the Atlanta Regional Commission predicts daily visits to the Clifton Corridor will increase by 25 percent over the next 20-25 years, while the CCTMA's own numbers project that growth at closer to 35 percent.

This increase, coupled with traffic that already can snarl at current population levels, is the major push behind the study, Putterman said, with the goal being to recommend a range of improvements--from traffic construction such as the roundabouts scheduled to be built along N. Decatur Road, to securing some kind of additional mass transit, to encouraging more bicycle commuting from employees and students.

"There is not going to be one big fix that will solve our problems," Putterman said. "It's going to be collective measures working together to have an overall effect."

Putterman said the transit study is close to developing an implementation plan for recommended improvements, using computer modeling to assess how measures could affect transit and congestion within the area boundaried by Briarcliff, La Vista, Clairmont and N. Decatur roads. The study is scheduled to be completed next month.

While things such as intersection renovation and improved signal timing could ease traffic congestion right now, the planners conceded that such measures are short-term fixes. Addressing the corridor's long-term concerns will almost certainly require some additional form of mass transit--whether it's the much-talked about "C-loop" connecting the Clifton Corridor to the Lindbergh MARTA station and then back around to south DeKalb, or something more modest such as on-street trolley cars--as well as some degree of behavior modification by the corridor's regular commuters.

"There's a perception," Putterman said, "that this is a very unsafe bicycling environment. [Addressing that] is one measure that definitely could contribute."

The CCTMA study will be incorporated into a countywide transit study that will more fully address larger questions such as land use. The DeKalb study is slated to be finished by December 2005.

Following Putterman's presentation and response to several questions from the audience, the workshop broke into groups that brainstormed ideas for six issues: traffic efficiency, service to those commuters living close to the corridor, service to those living further away, travel behavior modification, internal circulation and integration of land use with transportation.

Workshop participants ranged from University and CDC employees to area residents, to those who simply travel through the Clifton Corridor on their way to and from work.

Joe DeRose, director of membership and technology services for the Luce Center, located on Houston Mill Road behind the Miller-Ward Alumni House, said more attention needs to be paid to walkers and cyclists.

"Instead of saying, 'We need sidewalks here and here,' we need sidewalks on every street, and they need to be adequate," DeRose said.

Responses and ideas from the workshop will be assimilated as the study planners move into their final phase. For more information, visit www.cctma.com.