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Decatur Diary | January 30, 2024

S. McDonough Traffic Calming Set for Commission Review

After two community workshops and a trial slip lane closure last Fall, final designs for the S. McDonough Street traffic calming project will be presented for City Commission review on Tuesday, February 20 at their regularly scheduled 7:30pm meeting.

The proposal being considered is distinct from the S. McDonough Street repaving project beginning the week of February 11, 2024. That projet will happen regardless. The Commission’s decision on February 20 will instead determine what type of striping is added to the street once the repaving has set.

The proposed concept features a variety of traffic calming measures, including chicanes to deflect and slow traffic, bulb-outs to better designate on-street parking areas, highly visible crosswalks, and a hardened centerline to prevent “queue jumping” during the busy morning drop-off at the College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center.

Also among the proposed changes is the contentious and much discussed closing of the Garland Avenue slip lane.

Slip lanes — which allow vehicles to effectively “skip” an intersection — were designed to maximize speed and minimize delay for vehicles, a reality inconsistent with pedestrian crossing safety goals. By encouraging drivers to not stop or slow down when approaching an intersection, such lanes leave those walking and rolling in a potentially precarious position.

For these reasons, the city has decided to recommend moving forward with the closure of the slip lane. Such removal would ultimately aid in slowing traffic, increasing the visibility and protection of pedestrians.

The Bigger Picture

The goal of pedestrian safety, a longstanding city priority, has only intensified in light of recent pedestrian incidents and deaths, including earlier this month when a student was struck in a hit-and-run collision in a city school zone.

Road safety — for all users — is paramount, and the city is taking both long and short term steps to address this. Calming efforts on S. McDonough Street constitute just one of the increasingly visible signs of this commitment.

Getting it Done

Should the proposal be approved, the installation of these traffic calming improvements will occur in two waves. The first will include closure of the slip lane, signing, and marking of the new roadway configuration following S. McDonough’s soon-to-be-completed repaving. The second wave, to be scheduled, will include the reconstruction of the triangular island at the Garland Avenue intersection as well as the bulb-outs and chicanes along the project corridor.

The first phase, and then the street at the conclusion of the second phase, are both shown below.

Design at the completion of Phase 1. Click for larger view.

Full design at the completion of Phase 2. Click for larger view.

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