Northside Drive and Moreland Avenue were
the most obvious examples since neither of these arterial highways have four
lanes with a 20 foot median. Northside Drive has four lanes running
through the minority community; however, as Northside goes into the
residential Buckhead Community, the lanes are reduced to three.
Moreland has four lanes in the minority community but as Moreland turns into
Briarcliff in the Emory University neighborhood the road becomes
two lanes and tamer. Clearly, there were some DOT exceptions.
Unfortunately, those exceptions meant nothing to the DOT’s plan to forge
Realizing the giant bureaucracy the DOT
represented, the Sandtown Community Association and the Ben Hill Neighbor
Precinct Unit-P (NPU-P) combined their efforts to form the Campbellton Road
Coalition (CRC). CRC did not want to stop progress; CRC wanted the
community to be a part of shaping the progress. CRC’s mission would be
to engage the two communities in efforts to find design alternatives that
would provide safety and traffic movement along Campbellton Road, yet, not
allow the community to become bifurcated and destroyed with such a monstrous
At CRC’s request, the Georgia DOT returned
a year later. With the proper community notification, more than 250
persons attended the public hearing to express concerns about the design.
Over the course of three years, the community and DOT would meet more than
30 times either in workshops, small meetings, legislative sessions or
The initial meetings with top DOT
officials proved fruitless. Then DOT Director Shakleford
indicated the widening project was not about Sandtown or Ben Hill ----Campbellton Road’s purpose
was to get people from Douglass
County into city limits of Atlanta.
The new homes, schools, and churches along Campbellton essentially did not
matter to the widening plan. CRC responded that we would not let
the DOT or anyone present a plan that would diminish, destroy and cause
disinvestments in our communities.
A fundamental tenet for CRC was that
stopping the widening without fundamental safety improvements and
beautification of Campbellton Road would be an empty victory. Thus,
began three years of intense work to educate ourselves on design
alternatives and obtain community buy-in on the possibilities for Campbellton Road
with the right road design.
On July 17, 2000, CRC hosted a community
workshop with funding provided through Southwest Revitalization and the
Georgia Sierra Club. The featured speaker was international traffic
Lockwood. Lockwood’s credentials were perfect for helping with Campbellton
Road. He was successfully working with a Virginia community on “traffic
calming” a state highway. (Route 50 Coalition). Additionally, he had
been successful in redesigning the streets and state highways in West Palm
Beach where he worked as a transportation planner.
In anticipation of Lockwood’s
presentation, fliers with the title “A New Design for Campbellton Road” were sent throughout the
community. More than 300 persons (residents, Fulton County Planning
and Public Works staff) attended the workshop at Sandtown Baptist.
Lockwood was an overwhelming
success. He introduced the community to “traffic calming”.
“Traffic calming” refers to roads designed in such a manner that the design
of the road dictates the speed; yet, traffic is allowed to move slowly but
freely. He showed how traffic calming could create a myriad of
possibilities for the community.
More importantly, Lockwood
gave independent affirmation that our cause was just. Communities
throughout the Country and Georgia
were insisting on community friendly designs. We had the right to
insist on one as well.
gave the community no final design.
Lockwood argued imposing his
design on Campbellton Road would be no better than the DOT. He
emphasized that a community design had to evolve that would include the
community’s vision for land use; the road design would then fit the land use
the community determined. He suggested that we create villages (Ben Hill, County Line,
Boat Rock/Campbellton) along Campbellton, which would provide retail and
housing. Eventually, retail would be added to Camp Creek but the
major emphasis to slowing Campbellton Road would be the villages.
These villages would add value to the
community. He further observed that as long as the Campbellton Road was a
state road, the Georgia DOT would allow the trucks. The community
needed to create an atmosphere within the villages so that the “trucks would
act differently” when coming through. With a quality village, the DOT
would think twice before destroying it to widen a road. Our challenge
as a community would be to find funding to bring in the professionals who
could create that vision.
In the fall of 1999, the Sandtown Community received $40,000 in funding
through Southwest Revitalization, a community economic investment
organization. Southwest Revitalization received its funding from the Fulton
Board of Commissioners. Reggie Tatum and Jewel Johnson were
instrumental in discovering the funding source. Eventually
$15,000 was added from the Atlanta City Government to complete the design
for Ben Hill (Barge to County Line).
Bill de St. Aubin of the Sizemore Group
and Walter Kulash of Glatting-Jackson of Orlando were chosen to help the
community develop the alternative design for Campbellton Road.
The Sizemore Group had a strong reputation for land use planning, urban
planning and creating communities;
Glatting Jackson was nationally
known for transportation planning.
Six months following the initial Lockwood
presentation, the months of planning culminated in workshops at Sandtown Baptist
Church. More than 600 residents participated in either the
questionnaire or day/evening workshops. For that evening, the turnout
was tremendous. In attendance were County Commissioners,
Atlanta City Council members, Atlanta and Fulton County
staff members and reluctant DOT officials. The Sizemore Group
presented character preference pictures, which the community rated.
These ratings would later be summarized in a community land use vision.
Two months later, the Sizemore Team
presented the results of the community’s preferences. The community
had endorsed the following land use objectives:
Better school options (middle and high
Recreation facilities (YMCA or public
Reduced truck traffic.
Standards for the manner in which
buildings and roads should be designed.
Walter Kulash of Glatting Jackson translated these options into a general
plan for Campbellton Road. By accessing DOT’s information, he was able
to determine that the predictions of overcrowding for Campbellton Road
(Sandtown sections) were based on data on the heaviest traveled parts of
Campbellton ( Fulton Industrial and Douglas County) where nearly 20,000 cars
traveled daily. Most of these cars drop off at Fulton Industrial.
The Sandtown segments approximated 9-10,000 cars daily. Thus, the
moment Campbellton is widened, the car increase would be nearly 15-20,000
cars and trucks. With the Sizemore and Glatting Jackson
summaries, the community had a broad plan, which was reflected in the
Campbellton Road Corridor Study.
The Campbellton Road Corridor Study was
presented to the Georgia DOT. After a series of lengthy
communications, the Georgia DOT withdrew plans to widen the road. The
Campbellton Road Coalition had fulfilled their goal of stopping the
widening, but the goal of implementing an alternative still had not been
achieved. The DOT was prepared to “wait” us out.
In stopping the Campbellton Road
expansion, CRC joined the ranks of only one other Georgia community that had
successfully stopped a road widening. Furthermore, Sandtown and Ben Hill became the first Georgia
communities to propose a traffic-calming plan for a state highway.