A biker travels up Clayton Street in dwontown Athens, Georgia, as the sun comes up on Friday, August 24, 2018. It is an unseasonably cool morning, with temperatures in the 60s. (Photo/Gabriella Audi, www.gabbyaudi10.wixsite.com/mysite-2)

The SPLOST 2020 Citizens Advisory Committee spent the majority of its meeting Wednesday hearing project presentations about speed bumps and sidewalks before finally getting to a new childcare center and a renovated welcome center.

The CAC is currently faced with 88 potential projects. The CAC is tasked with narrowing down the projects to submit a final list of proposed projects to the Athens-Clarke County Mayor and Commission in July.

Bicycle improvement project

  • Submitted by: ACC Transportation & Public Works Department
  • Estimated cost: around $13.5 million

This project involves expanding on current bicycle expenditures in ACC. Some of the things included are additional roadway bicycle lanes, new pavement markings on roads, offroad bike paths and new bike-related signage.

Drew Raessler, director of Department of Transportation and Public Works, talked about the overall goal of this program.

“We want to deliver low-stress bicycle facilities,” Raessler said. “One of our goals is equity and looking at all parts of the community, and that involves looking at underserved areas.”

Pedestrian improvement program

  • Submitted by: ACC Transportation & Public Works Department
  • Estimated cost: around $11.4 million

This project is similar in nature to the bicycle improvement project, but has a larger emphasis on the pedestrian aspects.

“There are critical gaps between where there’s sidewalk construction and [marginalized] communities,” Raessler said.

The project includes land acquisition, new signalization and sidewalk improvements including things such as colorized crosswalks, flashing pedestrian devices, pedestrian signage and countdown timers.

Raessler said this project is reliant on SPLOST because, “it’s up towards a million dollars a mile to build a sidewalk.”

Traffic calming program

  • Submitted by: ACC Transportation & Public Works Department
  • Estimated cost: around $4.2 million

This proposed program addresses cars and other motorists that speed by installing more speed bumps, radar speed signs, curb extensions and other calming methods in ACC as a whole.

“Speed plays such a large part in traffic fatalities,” Raessler said. “We want to work with the mayor and commission to make roadways safer.”

Raessler added that the methods named above would not be the only ones utilized.

“This [project] definitely includes roundabouts — gotta love roundabouts,” Raessler said.

Vision Zero program

  • Submitted by: ACC Transportation & Public Works Department
  • Estimated cost: around $6.2 million

The Vision Zero Program takes a different approach to traffic issues by focusing almost entirely on eliminating traffic fatalities instead of just trying to limits cars’ speeds.

Raessler said this program is a divergence from the traffic calming program.

“This program identifies safety problems in order to fix those problems toward a zero-death goal; this is focused more on fatality crashes instead of just safety,” Raessler said.

The program includes intersection modifications, signing and marking improvements, traffic calming measures, sight distance improvements and roadside improvements.

Vincent Drive sidewalk

  • Submitted by: BikeAthens
  • Estimated cost: around $1.9 million

This project involves constructing around 1.4 miles of sidewalk on Vincent Drive between Jefferson River Road and Newtown Bridge Road.

Tyler Dewey, executive director for BikeAthens, said the sidewalk would be five feet in width and only on one side of the road.

“The goal is to build safe access for people, and we want to create infrastructure for all ages and abilities,” Dewey said.

Safety measures at Agriculture Drive and Brooks Drive

  • Submitted by: Art Edison
  • Estimated cost: around $2.6 million

Art Edison, a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Georgia, talked about how he uses the street to either walk or bike to his job every day.

“It’s amazing how hard it is to get to campus given the fact we have such a large university and progressive community,” Edison said.

Edison’s proposal involves improving pedestrian and bike access to Agriculture Drive, but he said his ultimate goal is to try and get the road to become a one-way.

“Without one-way traffic on this street there’s no way for everyone to fit,” Edison said.

Childcare Center partnership program

  • Submitted by: Athens for Everyone
  • Estimated cost: around $7 million

This project involves building a new 11,700-square-foot childcare facility in an unspecified area specially made for children up to the age of four. The facility would include a lobby, office, kitchen, classrooms and four outdoor plays areas.

“Early care and learning is something that should be accessible for all folks in our community and knitted into the fabric of Athens,” Briana Bivens, education campaign chairperson at Athens for Everyone, said.

Bivens added that the facility would initially be low-cost for Athens residents, but the goal is for it to become completely free. She said A4E wants to work with nonprofits to alleviate some of the financial burden in order to accomplish this goal.

Athens Welcome Center improvements

  • Submitted by: ACC Heritage Foundation
  • Estimated cost: around $1.1 million

This project involves renovating the Athens Welcome Center including making the facility and outdoor surfaces around the facility more disability friendly, installing a bike-share station, installing two new crosswalks, installing more inclusive signage and new landscaping, expanding the building and reestablishing the fenceline for parking.

Evelyn Reece, director of the Athens Welcome Center, said that the improved accessibility and larger emphasis on the early cultural history of Athens could attract more visitors.

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