A proposal for revamping Prince Avenue includes long-awaited bike lanes on part of the street, but Athens-Clarke County may have to chip in extra for the Georgia Department of Transportation to build them along the entire corridor.
A user group submitted a prioritized list of Prince Avenue projects to the Athens-Clarke County Commission for approval next month. The top tier—eligible for $2.8 million in sales tax revenue set aside for Prince in TSPLOST 2018—includes restriping the portion of Prince between Pulaski Street and Milledge Avenue to replace two car lanes with bike lanes and a center turn lane.
That’s the portion owned by ACC. The state controls Prince west of Milledge, also known as Georgia Highway 15. The Georgia Department of Transportation is planning to resurface the entire road and originally included bike lanes, but those have been removed, according to SPLOST project manager Diane Jackson.
Commissioner Russell Edwards said at a Jan. 11 work session that he wants to see protected bike lanes up and down the corridor—and not just bollards, but something substantial like concrete barriers. “I want a lane that will give parents the security to say, ‘My child can ride their bike down Prince Avenue,’” Edwards said.
GDOT would likely be open to restoring bike lanes if ACC paid for them, Jackson said, and the price tag shouldn’t be too high because GDOT will already be doing road work. The state project will involve milling down and repaving the entire corridor, adding a center median, signal upgrades at eight intersections, disability-accessible ramps, upgrades to three existing mid-block crosswalks and possibly a new mid-block crosswalk at the Social Security building.
Residents along Prince Avenue have been asking for bike lanes dating back to an initial community planning session in 2004. The user group consolidated that effort with seven other studies that included a total of 113 projects, which they whittled down to 31 and then to 25 to avoid overlap with GDOT.
In addition to a road diet and bike lanes on the locally owned portion of Prince, the user group wants to add a crosswalk at Sylvia Circle if GDOT doesn’t build it, plus another one at Georgia Avenue, increase bus frequency and reduce the number of curb cuts. Aligning the Park Avenue-Talmadge Drive intersection is another top priority, but there isn’t enough funding in TSPLOST 2018, so it may have to wait until the next round of TSPLOST in 2023.
Commissioner Carol Myers said she is concerned about GDOT’s plan for a nearly continuous median. Businesses don’t like medians because they make it harder to access those businesses for drivers turning left, Jackson said, but they make the corridor safer by slowing down drivers and reducing conflict points like left-hand turns.
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