Construction crews work to replace the curbs and sidewalks at 14th Street and Peachtree Street. The work is part of a joint effort by the City of Atlanta and Midtown Alliance to make aesthetic and accessible improvements at five intersections along Peachtree.
Though not immediately noticeable to most people, the City of Atlanta and Midtown Alliance expanded their ongoing efforts in 2018 to improve and update sidewalks, crosswalks and curbs, making a small but significant impact on the accessibility of Midtown public spaces.
“These types of small-scale capital projects are critical to maintaining a quality sidewalk experience, and that’s something that benefits all of us,” said Emily Schwimmer, transportation project manager at Midtown Alliance.
Regular wear and tear from cars and pedestrians make maintenance an almost constant necessity, but project leaders saw the opportunity to make further aesthetic and functional improvements. Most recently, projects have focused on three intersections along Peachtree Street, including 14th and 15th streets and Deering Road, with more projects planned for Peachtree Circle and the Buford-Spring Connector.
LEFT: A broken sidewalk at Deering Road presents a trip hazard for people on foot.
Through funds allocated by the Renew Atlanta TSPLOST and dedicated funds from the Midtown Improvement District, construction teams are working on a variety of small-scale projects that range from patching or replacing concrete and resetting pavers to tree well expansions and ADA-compliant ramp improvements. With more than $850K in sidewalk repairs already completed since 2014, Midtown Alliance will cross a milestone later this year with $1M invested in repairs and improvements for one of the district’s most important assets.
ADA Improvements Make Midtown Safer for Everyone
For Ashley Hatcher, mobility specialist at the Center for the Visually Impaired, the ADA sidewalk upgrades are critical for making Midtown safe and accessible for people with vision loss. Though federal requirements through the Americans with Disabilities Act have been in effect since 1990, Hatcher lamented that the replacement of old crosswalks and ramps has been slow going in many areas of the city.
Hatcher often walks the Midtown sidewalks near her West Peachtree office with visually impaired clients, helping them learn how to navigate the public right of way. Although sidestepping e-scooters has presented an entirely different set of challenges on the sidewalk, Hatcher said the recent ADA improvements have made a significant difference for CVI clients.
RIGHT: Construction crews install tactile paving at a crosswalk. Also called "truncated domes," visually impaired people are able to feel the textured bumps beneath their feet, alerting them that they are leaving a sidewalk and entering the street.
At 14th and 15th streets, all center wheelchair ramps have been replaced by two ramps in each direction. “[The visually impaired] use hearing to align to traffic in order to cross the street,” Hatcher explained. “It’s really complicated when there’s just one ramp.”
Each ramp will also get new tactile paving—the textured bumpy strips you see at crosswalks—to alert the visually impaired that they are leaving the sidewalk and entering the street.
CVI will continue to advocate for safer, more accessible sidewalks for the visually impaired, Hatcher said.
Visit the capital projects page to learn more about the ongoing construction projects in the Midtown District.