$7.2 million streetscape project snarls Candler Road traffic
Ken Watts | 8/30/2013, 6:59 a.m.
DECATUR Morning and early afternoon traffic may be slow in the 2300 block of Candler Road for the next two weeks as crews work on the first phase of a $7.2 million face lift for the corridor.
Commissioner Larry Johnson, whose District 3 includes Candler, says contractor Kemi Construction is replacing a section of water line.
Johnson said that the streetscape upgrades will include new sidewalks, road striping and repaving, landscaping for medians, and other infrastructure improvements along the 3.7 mile-stretch from Memorial Drive to I-285.
“Candler Road is the gateway to South DeKalb,” Johnson said on Aug. 28. “And we’re trying to upgrade the quality of life and make it more walkable.”
Johnson said the county is coordinating with the Georgia Department of Transportation to get the water and sewer work done before Kemi begins road work on Candler, which is a state route.
The DeKalb Board of Commissioners accepted a $1.7 million contribution from the Georgia DOT for the project at its April 9 meeting.
Federal and DeKalb Homestead Option Sales Tax funds will account for the rest.
The project will take three to six months depending on weather.
This is the latest effort to breathe new life into what has continued to be a blighted commercial district.
In 1999, DeKalb established the Candler Road Challenge Grant Program, which offered up to $55,000 to property owners who were constructing new buildings or renovating existing ones.
An attempt to offer a second round of grants in 2000 faltered.
In 2002, the county announced a $10.4 million project to improve the intersection of Candler and Glenwood.
The plan called for upgrades to sidewalks and crosswalks, installation of pedestrian islands, improved lighting, and extensive landscaping with plants and shrubs, but construction didn’t begin until 2007.
The county completed those enhancements in 2009.
Landscaping along Candler has been problematic with grass and unsightly weeds left uncut for long stretches of time.
No plan was put in place to care for the plants on the median and most of the plants died.
This time should be different, said Margaret Britton, Johnson’s chief of staff.
“A lot of the plants last time died because of drought,” Britton said.
“The new vegetation will be drought-resistant.”
Britton said a new agreement between the state and county on maintenance also will make a difference.
“Because Candler is a state route, we had to depend on the state to cut the weeds and maintain the medians,” she said.
“Under the new arrangement, the Candler right of way is still state-owned, but DeKalb will maintain the medians on the county’s cutting schedule, which gives us more control and the ability to react if for example there’s a lot of rain and grass or weeds go through a growth spurt,” she added.
In addition to the streetscape improvements, Johnson said the county will renovate the Community Development Building at Candler and Glenwood next to the Church’s Chicken to create a family protection center.
The facility will offer multiple services for families in crisis, including counseling and help for victims of domestic violence, and plans call for the district attorney to open a branch office in the building.
The county hopes to open the center in spring of 2014.
“This facility will offer one-stop shopping for crime victims and prevent them from having to run all over town to get help,” Johnson said.