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Southeast Beltline Committee Works to Improve Exit Safety


by Brandon Tidwell
On September 28, a car exiting I-20 at a high speed crashed into the side of a new development at the intersection of the I-20 off ramp and Bill Kennedy Way. On October 23, another car crashed at the same intersection. Clearly, some vehicles exiting I-20 did not realize, until too late, that the off ramp terminated at the intersection. What happened next is a testament to the power of civic involvement.
Bill Kennedy Way is not only an important connector road for southeast Atlanta residents, but it also is an important part of the Subarea 4 of the Beltline Development. It was because of this importance that the accidents caught the attention of the Southeast Beltline Committee of NPU-W. Members of the committee knew that this was an issue of importance, not just to the Beltline, but to the surrounding neighborhoods as well, so they drafted a letter to the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) to ask the agency to improve the safety of the exit. Among other things, the letter requested that GDOT “install low-cost engineering measures that would improve the visibility and decrease speed on the off ramp, such as reflective back plates on the signals, signal ahead signage, and/or a large, two-direction arrow sign.”
At that point, Jim Voris, a committee member and, at the time, transportation chair of the Grant Park Neighborhood Association, worked to involve groups representing East Atlanta, Ormewood Park, Reynoldstown and Cabbagetown. Individuals representing NPU-W, Central Atlanta Progress, Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, PEDS and the Glenwood Park Homeowners Association signed on as well.
“I knew Kathy Zahul, the GDOT District 7 engineer, through my involvement in the Imagine Memorial Task Force, so she became the obvious person to whom to direct our correspondence,” said Voris.
On December 11, Mr. Voris received the good news from GDOT that they would be taking steps to “amplify conspicuity of the ramp terminus” as well as installing advance warning signs on the ramp approaching the intersection. According to Voris, “GDOT expects to install advanced warning signs this week (the week of January 25).”
“This is a great example of the kind of progress that can happen when neighborhoods work together,” said Brandon Tidwell, Chairman of Southeast Beltline Committee.
If you would like to find out more information on becoming involved with the Southeast Beltline Committee, go to www.seatlbeltline.org.

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