The Athens in Motion Commission discussed the progress of the Prince Avenue Pilot Project at its meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 25.
Starting in September, the Prince Avenue Pilot Project has changed Prince Avenue from a four-lane vehicle road with two lanes on each side to a three-lane road with one vehicle lane in each direction, a center turning lane and two bike lanes, according to the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government website. The Pilot Project runs a half mile from east of North Milledge Avenue to Pulaski Street.
ACC Bicycle-Pedestrian Safety Coordinator Daniel Sizemore said the project’s main goal is to reduce speed without causing delays due to. This is because roughly 16% of serious or fatal vehicle-related accidents involve pedestrians and 4.55% involve bicycles. He believes the three-lane configuration meets that goal.
“We’re seeing cars moving slower, like you’re driving at 20 miles an hour instead of 40 miles an hour, but you’re not stopping and starting continuously,” Vision Zero, which works to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries, Safety Specialist Shirelle Hallum said. “So, that’s the goal for Prince, is that cars would steadily move at a slower speed so that they’re not harming anyone.”
The commission has released a survey for the public to give their thoughts on the project. Almost 800 people have completed the survey and it is open until Nov. 23.
The changes to Prince Avenue are not necessarily permanent, if the overall reception is negative then the commission and the mayor may create another plan, Sizemore said.
“We are looking at opportunities for addressing any concerns that are brought up to the survey, the survey is really the most helpful part of it,” Sizemore said. “Where we can really identify what the traffic patterns are doing, where people are getting confused and we can start to address some of those.”
Sizemore is interested in how the survey will give the commission a good idea of where to go with the project.
“I’m excited to be able to see the data from the Prince Avenue [survey] to see how we could take this process, improve it and not just that one project, but the concept of pilot projects,” Sizemore said.
According to board member Teresa Friedlander, the commission needs to send a letter of recommendation to Mayor Kelly Girtz on how the Prince Avenue Pilot Project has been going by Dec. 6th in time for the mayor and commission’s special session on Dec. 13th.