Atlanta Traffic: The Atlanta Way Gets in the Way AGAIN

While many may debate the proper role of government, most would agree that creating roads is a reasonable expectation in exchange for taxes. City streets in Atlanta bear the business, history, and heat of frustration. They are the places of marches, the marketplace for the local vendor, and the closest thing I think hell can come to on earth during traffic. It’s odd to me how little has been maintained here despite the population and business growth. What’s more is that this isn’t a uniquely Atlanta problem. Anyone who’s crossed county boundaries knows by the inevitable bump in the road as you move from new to old asphalt where the county’s funding ends or begins. (Maybe that’s just where I grew up- we always knew where the Morgan Co. line was). If Georgia is the Gateway to the South, and we wish for Georgia to lead in business, don’t we have to facilitate that in infrastructure maintenance, i.e. roads? And if we wish to deliver the workforce to facilitate commerce, don’t we have to enable folks to reliably get to work? Density in Georgia cities is increasing, not decreasing. So do we have the structures to ensure localities needs are met in conjunction with GDOT? I’ll let you decide.

I’ve talked about my neighborhood in regards to the City’s pool challenge. When I originally wrote this piece, I was going to use it as a descriptor of challenges for traffic, speeding, poor walkability, lack of pedestrian safety, and this sickly reminder of how an entire transportation system cut through a community in order to divide its political power. The latter of which is now affecting the actual health and safety of current residents with the city leaders largely and willfully blind to the concern. However, in between my original writing and its publication, I wrote this piece on an event in my neighborhood as well. Effectively, the years of inaction of DOT have made my neighborhood a favorite of risky traffic behaviors for filming that have now engaged City Council and the APD. To add another layer to the story, this intersection is of MLK Jr. Dr. and and Chicamauga. Like many roads, MLK is a state road, Hwy 139 on down the line. This is a major thoroughfare where the state and the city jurisdictions come together to point the finger at one another and meaningful problems aren’t solved.

Man, if only they’d put those speed humps in…*sigh*

Mozley Park is largely laid out in a grid iron pattern, as was much of the downtown portion of the city. This pattern was the en vogue method of city planning when Terminus changed to Atlanta. We boast wide streets where neighbors can either speed down in straight aways like Chicamauga, Chappelle (pronounced Chapel, thankyouverymuch), Westview, Mozley Place, and Cerro. Or, neighbors can double park to prevent the former from happening. The fire trucks find this challenging, but not as much as the federally funded too-tall medians erected along MLK Jr. Dr. to slow traffic down. 

The medians…The city didn’t ask the neighborhood if we wanted this “beautification” (thanks, Kasim!!!) and in their infinite stupidity/ shortsightedness lack of public input, they didn’t make certain the 17 ft wide medians allowed for both a stopped MARTA bus and fire truck at the same time. As a result, to allow emergency vehicles the ability to move, the City shaved off the top of the granite curbs of each median, after they were already completed. This means the contractors also dug up all of the bricks and dirt they’d placed within them, and then redid everything in order to reduce the height of the medians. Ironically, instead of reducing speed, the medians created a gauntlet effect, where cars race one another to get in front to then speed through the medians as quickly as they do on the single lane portions of Hwy 138 I drive to visit my hometown area. The difference being, that the race here is to the Benz stadium on this route, vs. a feeder to get you to Sanford stadium in my hometown area. 

All transportation and economic development in Georgia exists around sports, doesn’t it, folks?

These roads in the neighborhood are flat, broad, and almost entirely unstriped. It’s like the city gave up on us some decades back and (try as my neighborhood might for the past three years) hasn’t gotten the attention of the transportation Gods in the city. I know what you’re thinking, dear Reader: we haven’t asked our council member. We haven’t talked to the right people. Maybe we don’t have the right leadership. Here’s a list of our neighborhood’s efforts to address these problems ourselves:

  • Directly asking our council member and her staff multiple times over the course of the last three years for sidewalks, striping, stop signs, etc. We asked first for understanding the process, then for help navigating through the process as our requests were often closed without anything happening. Some striping and stop signs have been established- it IS an election year, so we aren’t entirely empty handed, but much remains undone.
  • In the process of asking our council member about the process, we also learned that each council district had a certain amount of money dedicated to transportation spending. Our council member had $4M in unallocated funds. Hunnnnny!!! You talk about a neighborhood that quickly unified to go around that council member!?! We’re laughing to keep from crying over here.
  • Leading a calling campaign of residents to Atlanta’s Transportation Committee with  calls asking for better sidewalks and markings in the roads
  • Multiple requests for traffic studies on the streets of Laurel, Mozley Place, Cerro, Chicamuaga, and Westview
  • A literal spreadsheet organized by neighbors of open case numbers requested via ATL311 so that *hopefully* we can annoy the city enough to pay attention
  • A walk through the neighborhood with Atlanta DOT Commissioner Josh Rowan to identify challenges and discuss solutions
  • The neighborhood has a Neighborhood Assn, that handles most of the interaction with the ATL DOT.
  • We have a “Friends of Mozley Park” group that specifically focuses on the namesake of the neighborhood, our park. The Friends of Mozley Park has secured a grant, through Park Pride, written by my neighbor, whose previous job was working for Samsung’s philanthropy department. The Park is working with the city’s Green Infrastructure plans to create a rain garden to divert some of the watershed from the rivers on MLK Jr. Dr. to allow the water to be absorbed in our park.
  • We have a Transportation Committee, specific to identifying challenges with roads, walkways, and paths within our neighborhood.
  • We have a Public Safety Committee that is petitioning to get a sound barrier in place on the western most side of our neighborhood because the only thing separating my neighbors’ backyard from the I 20 off ramp is a chain link fence.
  • We have a Beautification Committee, to do clean ups and pick up trash within the neighborhood as the street sweeping isn’t super common.
  • We have a Book Club, to educate ourselves on history and how they shape current events.
  • We have a chapter of Neighbors In Need because we care about seniors aging in place.
  • Atlanta is divided into 25 Neighborhood Planning Units. Our NPU is chaired by my husband. I serve as the delegate for the NPU to the Atlanta Planning and Advisory Board (APAB), which is the only citizen group where all neighborhoods come together that is formally recognized by the City.
  • Within APAB, I Co-chair the Transportation Committee and regularly converse with Commissioner Rowan (with his team cc’d) regarding how we might go about improving roads across the city.
  • The APAB Transportation Committee has created a list of hazardous streets, shared with City Council Transportation Committee Chair Andre Dickens and Commissioner Rowan to highlight needs as reported by citizens

Bottom line: if there’s something to be done, our neighbors are doing it, and they’re doing it for free while our elected officials cash our tax-money-provided-pay-checks.

Now there’s some things you should know about my neighborhood, if you didn’t read about it in my previous post. First, it’s origins are antebellum. Then, the park was gifted to the city from the Mozley family sometime during the 1920s. Second, from the onset of White Flight, it’s been a historically Black neighborhood. And during the 60s/70s, this was an affluent Black neighborhood. It went through a rough period in the 80s and 90s and is now in the midst of gentrifying. There are a total of four businesses inside the neighborhood bounds, so even if we wanted to create a TAD or CID, we don’t have the commercial zoning to do it- believe me, neighbors and I have tried to figure out ways to do this. The businesses we do have in the neighborhood are gas stations, a senior living center and a day care. When I asked the city planner assigned to our NPU if we might rezone some vacant lots for conditional commercial use, I was told that suggestion was “spot zoning” and the city frowned upon that. So despite our best efforts, here we are.

In 2017, some of my littlest neighbors were attacked by a dog. My neighbor’s brother didn’t make it. It’s my understanding, before this instance, the school children walked to school. Our community school, F.L. Stanton Elementary, is close enough that families can simply walk their children to class. (In some ways, I live in the real-life version of a Norman Rockwell-esque community, if only Life Magazine had allowed Rockwell to paint Black families instead of white ones.) Now we have a bus stop on Chicamauga so that the kids who reside further away from the school won’t have to walk. But this is also one of the collector streets, so when MLK Jr. Dr. backs up, Chicamauga becomes a raceway.

I have to say, for the second highest taxes in the state and a $53M transportation budget, it’s really puzzling how much we lack here. 

Those same school children walk to visit me on a straight and wide road called Cerro, where there is no sidewalk on either side. So these 3-15 yr old kids walk in the middle of the street in a major metropolitan area. They tell me they can run fast, but why should our city expect them to have the reflexes of a cat to cross their own dang street?? Frogger is a game I expect them to play on a screen, not IRL.

On Chicamauga, the sidewalk is only on one side, and (for whatever reason) stops in the middle of an individual yard. It’s so bizarre!?! Neighbors have no idea why it just stops, à la Shel Silverstein. This abrupt stop and the nonexistence of sidewalk in other parts of the neighborhood make it difficult for the seniors aging in place to safely get their little bit of exercise in the morning. The gaps in the sidewalk stymies the ability for the young to walk to work, the bus stop, or the park. All of the inadequacies of the sidewalks make them inaccessible to our neighbors with walkers and wheel chairs. The basic infrastructure of the city requires maintenance and updating from time to time. That’s expected. What negatively impacts the quality of life in areas like mine are the unreliability of those basic infrastructure needs being met, repaired, or updated regularly so that the area falls into decline. This isn’t because my neighbors and I don’t maintain our yards or homes- quite the opposite. We’re in a bit of a building boom currently as investors fix and flip more here than HGTV. But the basic maintenance of roads for which we pay our taxes are not being conducted. At this point I’m really wondering why not.

Speeding seems like such a straight forward challenge if you live outside the city, doesn’t it? I know, I know. It did to me too until I was educated on how wrong I was. You see, there are types of roads. We cannot place speed humps nor tables on Chicamauga nor Chappelle as these are what ATL DOT refers to as ‘collector’ streets- meaning they ‘collect’ traffic from inside our smaller streets and move the traffic to the ‘arterial’ streets- like MLK Jr. Dr. and Westview.  Westview and MLK Jr. Dr. experience a level of speeding that is written about in the paper and on WSB. The “street racers” are often these young guys in Dodge chargers that like to rev their engines on the straights. I experienced this as a kid a lot growing up on a straight, flat, road in the middle of nowhere. Drag racing is far from an exclusively urban thing, but obviously has dire consequences with families living together so closely. We’ve added more stop signs and finally painted the street to indicate these stopping points, yet without the physical impediments to slow down traffic, we’re basically SOL.

I only skimmed this point about speeding and risky traffic behavior in my last piece but it’s actually central to both pieces. In the filming that I wrote about earlier in the week, part of the shenanigans happening were cars driving at high speeds, doing donuts in the intersection of Chicamauga and MLK Jr. Dr., and then some driving on both sides of the medians on MLK Jr. Dr. Some cars even backed up out of the medians to get away from the riskier drivers. I would assert if the ATL DOT would listen to the people who live here, and put in those speed tables, speed humps, etc. We wouldn’t have any of this activity. We aren’t the only neighborhood in Atlanta who’ve recognized that addressing traffic conditions makes all of our population safer. Edgewood Avenue is an amazing place for food, fun, and a walk through history as it’s just down the street from Ebenezer Baptist. But neighborhood leaders have strongly advocated (and threatened closing down their own streets) because of lack of movement from the city and ATL DOT. There are bad feelings on both sides- some Edgewood business leaders feel that the DOT Commissioner misled them, and the Commissioner would prefer these neighborhood groups go through their NPUs as originally organized. (I’m writing another piece on the NPU system and the Atlanta Planning and Advisory Board to publish later.) In our NPU, our bylaws are set to defer to the will of the neighborhood. As such, my husband/NPU Chair tries to lend them the support they need to determine their own path forward. In Mozley Park, we’ve tried to keep a list of what’s needed in the neighborhood. If you look on the map I created there are multiple points on MLK Jr. Dr., Chicamauga, Westview, Cerro, and Mozley Pl. that need either raised crosswalks because they are access points to the park, PATH trail, or Beltline, or are natural walking paths of pedestrians.

Oh, and infrastructure of an aging city isn’t just roads, right? We’ve had a sinkhole in recent months on Chappelle. The city has determined the sinkhole isn’t a result of the sewer caving in on itself. Even if it were though, that wouldn’t be new to our neighborhood either. Trust, I understand that moving to a historic neighborhood meant I would likewise be dealing with ongoing pushes for restoration and rehabilitation. I just was under the impression based on my experience in the Midtown/ Poncey Highlands area that I understood what to expect. Cleary I was wrong. I was also living in both a space with a VERY responsive city council member (previous Councilmember Alex Wan’s office was known for his constituent services) and east of North Avenue at that time as well, which is a geographic indicator of the city’s color line.

Ever wonder why the city streets change names at North and/ or Ponce? Thank racism!

I recognize Peach Pundit readers may not have caught the Kevin Kruse piece a while back on racism impacting my city’s transportation. (I’m sorry it’s behind a pay wall.) Here’s an interview with 11Alive and a bit of explanation of what happened. The legacy of this reality isn’t just the disjointedness of the city, the division of Black power as it was gaining steam, nor the absolutely insane amount of traffic- it’s also having an interstate off-ramp in my neighbors’ backyard with only chain link fencing and a few trees to prevent a car from driving through the back of their home. Look again at the map. See that thick blue line? (Zoom in.) That’s where my neighbors are advocating (through our Public Safety Committee and petitions) to get a sound barrier placed where the blue line exists. This is yet another place where my neighborhood gets caught up in the finger pointing and blame shifting between GDOT and ATL DOT. Aside from the jarring noise levels and literal vibrations from the interstate, the amount of car fumes and exhaust that surrounds the houses on Racine and Gordon Terrace in Mozley Park are linked to heart disease and stroke. In a neighborhood of aging seniors and folks, some of which whose medical needs are met through Medicaid, these vulnerable populations don’t need any other hurdles to jump. And in a state that likes to restrict Medicaid, it would seem that conservative leaders might see the benefit to engage GDOT to rectify these challenges in order to alleviate over burdening of our Medicaid process. Lung Cancer ain’t cheap.

The phrase “shut your logic hole” can be heard often in my household.

What’s so wild about the city of Atlanta is that it has virtually no actual systems to address these challenges. Even though the city likes to talk about how they recognize its own racist past, there’s really no mechanism to address the problems it created. I mean, I’m not expecting a reparations department, but it is really too much to assume we should inventory and update our roads on a regular basis? And if we’re doing that already, shouldn’t we see tangible results of that reevaluation? Bueller? …Bueller?

When you ask someone how to address a problem in Atlanta, it’s a phone call to a department that starts with 311 and is routed to someone who answers your question directly from a dispatch team. While I appreciate the small town feel in that I can speak directly to the men and women who are the hands on the project, it’s a horrible way to manage large scale issues of entire neighborhoods in the city. It also doesn’t manage expectations in that I don’t ever get a timeline. City services exist in this ephemeral space where it may happen immediately or it’s in some que that is on someone’s desk that will get to it when they get to it.

As much as I can find fault with Fulton County on a number of things (and there’s plenty), their requests are sent to a central email source, then routed accordingly. My last inquiries with the county regarding a public health issue in my neighborhood resulted in emails, one phone conversation and three personal visits to my door. As a REALTOR®, I have a bank of admins that serve our two offices. If you email the central email, one of them will respond to your request within 30 mins. Often times, it’s almost instant. If my office can figure this out, why can’t the City of Atlanta? I understand this is the purpose of 311, yet it’s office hours are only M-F 7-7, and while the app helps serve in off hours, I find my tickets often get closed with no actual work being completed.

I suppose my expectation in a major U.S. city is that there is a system. There is a basic one here, but nothing is integrated to show where things overlap. The system is GIS based. The state uses this system to create our boundaries for voting districts. The APD uses it to track crime by neighborhood, NPU, or by Zone. The NPU dashboard is GIS based. The ATL DOT also uses GIS, but everything is delineated on their maps by council districts, not NPUs nor neighborhoods. I wish the city could be consistent about these maps. I think if they were, we’d see patterns in traffic, crime, and NPU engagement. In theory at least, you could talk to the people in the NPUs and neighborhoods to find out what’s going on to get buy-in and understand what tools are needed. Community engagement will always be a challenge, but NPU engagement has been up since the pandemic began because such a large group of the populace was home and on Zoom already, joining in for public meetings was easier. I also wish the city would have one website, versus all of these individual department websites. Who thinks this siloing of information is helpful? As an aside, I do know that this grouping by council district is astutely and purposefully done for budgeting purposes. I asked the ATL DOT Commissioner about his budgeting process, thinking I’d get an explainer on an 18 month process. Instead, he told me that he lines his projects up by council district so constituents can pressure their council members to advocate for their preferred projects. I thought that was very politically savvy. I wish I could expand his savviness further to be inclusive of NPU information and create a system for real time data. I mean, if I can personally report construction data into Waze, I’m assuming the ATL DOT can too and folks inside and outside of Atlanta would know what’s happening on their commutes in real time.

On the user side of things, the system is incredibly rife with delays and personal ties that smack of nepotism and cronyism. Whenever something is direly needed, my neighbors and I have to seek people who ‘know someone’ who works for the city. It’s like Mayberry over here- in a bad way! There are no timelines given for completion of work. The median project in front of my home had at least 4 or 5 different contractors that did an individual piece of the work and the timeline for completion was “Summer 2020”. When I asked about a more defined date I pointed to the fact that in Atlanta, summer lasts from April to October-might we know on which side of summer the completion might land? The engineer with whom I exchanged emails didn’t respond to anymore clarifying requests. None of this is mechanized nor systematic. It’s incredibly inefficient and I don’t see it getting better with the continuing growth we’re experiencing. It’s like bureaucracy is implicit, overlapping services are de rigeur, and scalability is some far off notion from George Jetson.

But if you have someone in your neighborhood who “works in transportation”, you can have them submit their CAD designed plans to folks within GDOT AND ATL DOT and BOOM! We’ve got parking now in the pipeline right off Langhorn and the Beltline our neighborhood has been requesting for at least four years! Trust, Imma get that neighbor to send more requests! He’s one of many Eagle Scouts in my neighborhood who has lived up to the promise to “make my rank and influence count strongly”. But can we agree, it shouldn’t require someone on the inside to make this happen? And look, I’m super grateful for the parking- it serves anyone who wishes to come to the Westside Beltline Trail who lives inside or outside the city AND is a better allocation of space for that area. Honestly, if I could get the DOTs on the same page- it would be an IDEAL location for a pocket park. We have a grant writer in our neighborhood- they wouldn’t even need to do any composition, I just need their approval and willingness to work together.

If you’re wondering, dear reader, if I’ve posed these questions to both the Commissioner of Transportation and the Chair of the Transportation Committee, you bet your bottom dollar I have! I have receipts! The Chair of the Atlanta Transportation Committee on City Council hasn’t responded. I assume he’s devoting his time to his Mayoral campaign. The Commissioner does respond, yet I would wager his drive home every night to Cobb County might make the situation a little less pressing for him. Most recently, the inquiry was regarding speed humps and when my husband asked if they could be contracted out (thinking that might speed up the process) the ATL DOT Commissioner informed us that ATL DOT already contracts that out AND is building out capacity to do it in-house- lovely! I am elated to hear of the doubling up of overlapping services with my tax money! That sound wise! Maybe this means at least we get it faster?? Oh no- still no timelines, silly reader… Execution is for CHUMPS.

What I have learned through the grape vine is that the ATL DOT is trying to update the current 25 year old standards they’ve been operating under- BRAVO! That’s a huge lift, and Commissioner Rowan should be heartily thanked for his leading the Department into the present day. It seems that there are national standards set by NACTO the Commissioner is moving ATL DOT to that will replace the petition process of getting speed humps that will make this process consistent and faster. This was adopted on July 6th, per this legislation. I look forward to seeing the new standards implemented, and appreciate the raising of the bar the Commissioner is working toward.

Meanwhile, when my neighbors’ car on Chicamauga was hit by a racing stolen car, my neighborhood association again asked what can be done. The Commissioner offered a traffic plan created from another neighborhood because plans are good, yes? But the question remains, when will any of out requests be acted upon? I mean, it’s been three years, yes? I don’t blame the Commissioner personally. After watching the 11 month long painful back and forth between the CoA and APS for something as innocuous as our dog park, I know he’s probably working as fast as the city will allow him. It is my guess the Commissioner doesn’t have enough staff to facilitate our neighborhood immediately. You see, the ATL DOT is a slight misnomer as it was really just Public Works renamed and its workers repurposed. I thought a partnership between Tech and ATL DOT might solve the problem, like it did for addressing street lights in the City of Atlanta. I feel like Bert Reeves could line up some helluva engineers to partner with the city and serve groups of NPUs much like city planners and the ACRB already do. It’d be great networking for student civil and traffic engineers along with resumé building. For the city, it might build out an over burdened system with a new generation of engineers focused on problem solving and not whose friends with whom at city council. While we contract out speed humps and paving as do most cities in Georgia, (patterned after GDOT), this partnership might get some further immediate action on our roads. But really, this is Atlanta. We’re going to find our own feet over which to trip. And at this point the emails I’ve sent to both the Commissioner and APAB trying to begin this conversation have been met with lack luster responses.

Again, dear reader, I anticipate your questions: ‘where are your city leaders?’ One would like to know! My city council member has been in office for 27 years, but when you ask her about the process of speed humps, she is only aware of this arcane process, not the legislative method I learned from the staff member of a less experienced councilman across the street (and I do mean literally across the street, as I reside on MLK Jr. Dr. and it is the dividing line for council districts). Please know that my city council member can offer legislation to support our neighborhood needs on any day ending in “y”, yet chooses not to. One would love to know why! 

This is a phenomenon I’m seeing all across the city. The city council members either play dumb or are actually that lacking of knowledge. Very little common practices are written or can be accessed anywhere online. It’s as if they make the rules up as they go, never learning from previous experiences or reviewing for a best practice approach. At least Boeing builds the plane before they fly it. As a result, our city streets have at best been poorly planned and lack regular maintenance, at worst are clusters of confusion, and the sources of major accidents. Maybe you saw this one person Beltline accident on the news? That’s my walking path that weaves under the city streets. One might expect there to have been repairs made, or (again, my silly expectations) guardrails there in the first place, but one would be wrong.

I have been amazed to see multiple city council members run not on an actual platform, but only on assuring their constituency that they will shepherd basic city services. In Atlanta we are no-longer to expect our leaders to be bigger, strategic thinkers, we should elect people based on their promise that they’ll help us get what we’ve already paid our taxes to receive. Think about a candidate running on a promise to get your trash picked up weekly and that’s what I’m hearing from candidates this cycle. It is mind boggling!?!

I’ve written previously about how short sighted Georgia’s leaders are and how the lack of longer term and regional planning stymies our scalable growth. It is unclear to me if Georgia’s leaders learned this from Atlanta’s culture of governance or if GOOA leaders taught this to Atlanta’s elected. Perhaps if I want to solve chicken and egg questions I should seek counsel from Abit Massey and/or the Gainesville Mafia specifically (who’s your Atlanta contact is what I wanna know?). Either way, the fact that even our roads cannot reliably connect our city leads me to acknowledge we have some foundational challenges before we can conquer those of moving commerce to the inland port or Hartsfield Jackson. One of those foundational challenges is this nexus of GDOT and ATL DOT. GDOT will have to be engaged in Mozley Park’s sound barrier efforts. It’s an interstate whose off ramp cuts off a portion of my neighbor’s backyard! Why there is no current mechanism of engaging GDOT with the NPUs and neighborhoods is a huge area of opportunity! Why aren’t there existing mechanisms for making this happen with the state? Atlanta can’t be the only city that has this challenge as highways connect all of our cities together and the interstates cut right through most of them. Surely this is an connection and relationship infrastructure that should be built out in Macon, Savannah, Valdosta, and Rome as much as Atlanta, yes?

The movement of goods will have to be led by people- the folks in neighborhoods like mine across the state. As much as we’d like to think we are, Atlanta isn’t unique in their struggles. It is my hope that Atlanta leaders can work with Georgia’s Gold Dome to at least pave the way for some model regional connection and infrastructure to ensure folks can get to work, school, and play. Aren’t we still the number one place to do business? How do we get our workforce to their places of employment if we don’t have adequately paved roads? Otherwise, we will attract businesses we cannot sustain. We will have a workforce that is kept still by traffic, and much worse, we will have an economy slowed due to our lack of belief in our own potential. And God forbid, Brandon Beach will also have to update his infrastructure stump speech.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Atlanta (and Georgia) have the funds to provide roads, walkability, and (another post for another day) transit. It also shouldn’t take years in any modern day city to get our roads striped and a few speed humps. Please know I recognize my current neighborhood’s state is because of the decades of poor representation at the council level from my councilmember and councilmember at large. I’m doing my part to engage voters to make this Councilmember Winslow’s last cycle in office. I’m not expecting the city to undo decades of problems in the blink of an eye. But I am (reasonably I think) expecting a hand full of streets to get raised cross walks & speed humps to prevent accidents and finished sidewalks to provide better walkability for a largely pedestrianized area. I would wager if we had those speed humps and raised cross walks, my last piece wouldn’t exist because there would be nothing about which to write. I value the lives of my neighbors. I feel like ATL DOT does too. An interesting personal note of Commissioner Rowan’s life is that he is originally from Santa Fe, and he remembers how much indigenous people’s designs were incorporated into everything in his hometown area. He was surprised to come to Atlanta and find how little of our Civil Rights history we acknowledge and weave into our city planning. This tells me he has not only the professional experience to lead the department forward, but a heart for building out Atlanta in a way that incorporates her past, not ignores it. I hope he can been given the partnerships across our state within GDOT to address our challenges and work towards a model that invites all neighborhoods, from Dalton to Waycross to better connect the state. When Georgia connects her people, we stand united and move forward far stronger than going at it alone.

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