Marietta plans makeover for busy downtown intersection

Jan. 9—The Marietta City Council is expected to approve a makeover of a busy downtown intersection — complete with a traffic signal, new crosswalks and sidewalks — at its Wednesday meeting.

City staff have proposed adding a traffic signal and three painted crosswalks at the T-shaped corner of Atlanta Street and Waverly Way, just a few blocks south of Marietta Square.

The intersection is traversed by thousands of cars daily, with motorists heading north into downtown and south to access South Marietta Parkway, Atlanta Road and Powder Springs Street. Businesses on the block include Glover Park Brewery and a Sherwin-Williams paint store.

The estimated cost of the project is about $570,000. The project would be funded with money from the 2022 special 1% sales tax streets account.

At a committee meeting last month, the mayor and City Council expressed their support and added it to the consent agenda for this Wednesday's meeting, meaning it is likely to pass unanimously.

Councilwoman Cheryl Richardson had requested that staff bring forward proposals to make the intersection safer. At the committee meeting, Public Works Director Mark Rice told the council his department had been eyeing some sort of project at the intersection for years.

While Rice couldn't say how many pedestrians use the intersection, he said thousands of cars pass through it daily. Citizens and nearby businesses have also requested improvements there.

About 40 accidents have been reported at the intersection in "recent years," Rice added — a few involved pedestrians, some were rear-endings, and others occurred when people merged.

The intersection has crosswalks allowing pedestrians to cross Waverly Way, but no crosswalk traversing Atlanta Street.

"We don't have a way of counting people crossing, we know they do cross there," Rice said.

The intersection has no traffic signal or stop sign, only a yield sign for drivers turning left onto Atlanta Street from Waverly Way. Under Rice's proposal, the direction of traffic would not change — Waverly Way would still be an eastbound, one-way street, with the option to turn right or left onto Atlanta Street.

Atlanta Street has two-way traffic south of Waverly Way, and is a one-way, northbound street north of the intersection.

Mayor Steve "Thunder" Tumlin said the area around that intersection is primed for future growth, and a worthy investment.

"That's the most logical place to grow over the years ... I mean, it's going to happen," Tumlin said.

Council members Joseph Goldstein and Cheryl Richardson agreed with that prediction.

Rice presented three options to the council. The first would add crosswalks and wider sidewalks, but no signal. The second would add a traffic signal. The third would add a pedestrian "HAWK" signal, which would stop traffic when pedestrians pushed a button.

"If you look at it two or three years (from now) let's just say Sherwin-Williams got sold and developed ... became something bigger and better ... which one of those three alternatives would be the best?" Tumlin asked.

Responded Rice, "Traffic signal," the second option.

"The way we would time that traffic signal, that gives better movement and safety methods there for the traffic, as well as pedestrians," Rice added.

In addition to the traffic signal, the city would repave the intersection and build decorative signal poles and widened brick sidewalks.