City DopeNews

Roundabouts, Walking/Biking Path Proposed for Chase Street

Plans are progressing to remake Chase Street into a safer corridor for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

The Georgia Department of Transportation’s plans for Chase Street cover about two-thirds of a mile between Miles Street (near Maepole) and the intersection with Barber Street and Newton Bridge Road. GDOT is proposing to build a multi-use path on the west side of the street, a sidewalk on the east side, convert the four-lane portion north of the Loop to three lanes and build three roundabouts—one at Oneta Street and two at the interchanges on either side of the Loop.

According to GDOT, most of the corridor is not accessible by foot or bike because it lacks shoulders, sidewalks, crosswalks and ramps. The roundabouts at the Loop will reduce delays at the current interchanges, as well as reduce speeding and eliminate 87% of crashes involving injuries or deaths. Flashing beacons will “enhance pedestrian safety” at roundabout crosswalks.

“I’m excited about it,” Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Melissa Link said at a June 21 public hearing. “Chase Street is a hot mess.” 

Link represented Chase Street for years, but the project area is now in Commissioner Dexter Fisher’s District 5.

The commission approved the project concept last year. The next step is a vote on right-of-way acquisition, probably in late 2025, said Rani Khatreeb, interim director of the ACC Transportation and Public Works Department. The amount of land needed is minimal, GDOT engineers said, and will not require demolishing any buildings. 

Construction on the $16 million project is scheduled to start in 2027. A federal grant will fund 80%, with a 20% local match. SPLOST funding has already been set aside for Chase Street, Khatreeb said, but some additional funding may be needed.

The state project will get underway a full decade after a similar project failed locally. In 2016 Link pushed through plans to restripe the four-lane part of the road to three, and to replace the center turn lane north of Boulevard with bike lanes. But a year later, after complaints from businesses about traffic back up, the commission threw out the county’s complete streets policy and reversed those changes, even though a traffic study found that the delays were less than a minute. Narrower lanes on the bridge over the railroad tracks stayed, though, and Link said they have been successful at slowing down traffic coming off the Loop into the Boulevard neighborhood.

After the Chase Street debacle, county staff and commissioners decided to divert cyclists to Barber Street. A concept plan for a multi-use path along most of the street was approved in 2023, with more detailed plans scheduled to come before the commission later this year.