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DeKalb officials break ground on sidewalk project

The safety of residents on Glenwood Road is an issue that affected DeKalb County resident Ann Brown personally. Brown said she became a “real” advocate for pedestrian safety nearly 25 years ago after her 12-year-old cousin was killed by a motor vehicle while she was on Glenwood attempting to go to elementary school.

 At an event to unveil a new sidewalk project, Brown said the area is beginning to change for the better.

 On Aug. 3, DeKalb County Commissioner Larry Johnson and DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond, along with local activists, held a groundbreaking ceremony at Shoal Creek II Park to unveil the second phase of pedestrian safety projects.  

 The Glenwood Road sidewalk project adds approximately two miles of sidewalk along both sides of Glenwood Road from Candler Road to Columbia Drive. The project is expected to be completed in late 2018.

 Brown said this is something the Glenwood area needs.

 “[My cousin] was trying to cross the street to go to school and she didn’t make it because she didn’t have a sidewalk to walk on. Glenwood at that time was considered one of the most dangerous streets in the state of Georgia,” Brown said. “There have been many other pedestrian deaths because there’s not enough sufficient area to stand on.”

 According to the Atlanta Regional Commission, approximately 18,000 vehicles per day use Glenwood Road. The area is also one of the top three corridors in DeKalb County for pedestrian-related crashes and fatalities.

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The project will also feature a pedestrian-activated crosswalk signal at Shoal Creek Park to alert drivers that a pedestrian to attempting to cross the street.

 “It is a new day on Glenwood Road,” said Vivian Moore, a local advocate who Johnson thanked for bringing attention to pedestrian safety on Glenwood. “It took us a long time to get here, but we’re here. I’m grateful to see this day because a lot of our folks are gone.”

 Moore said she has attended several funerals for individuals hit by vehicles on Glenwood Road.

 “I don’t want to go to another [funeral],” she said. “I’m not taking it no more. When we get these sidewalks you’re going to see me walking on them, my sons walking on them…we’re just grateful.”

 Thurmond said the project came to fruition thanks to residents such as Brown and Moore.

 “These are two powerful ladies and they know how to get things done. You need to know who’s who when you go into politics and, to be honest, I’m kind of scared of them. They don’t play,” Thurmond said, laughing. “We needed [Vivian] Moore, we needed [Ann] Brown and we had to have Commissioner [Larry] Johnson to get this done.”

 County officials said the project will also work on improving existing sidewalks along Glenwood Road. Wheelchair ramps at driveways and intersections will be added to the sidewalks.

 The first phase of the pedestrian safety initiative was completed in 2010 when sidewalks were installed from Interstate 20 to Candler Road.

 Johnson, whose district covers the Glenwood area, said he’s excited to see the project move forward.

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 “Glenwood Road used to be a four-lane highway. People wanted to narrow Glenwood Road to make it safer for pedestrians and cut down on speed,” Johnson said. “It’s been 12 years to get us to this point and the residents helped make that happen. I told [my assistant Colet Odenigbo] that you have to remind people because they just remember the now. They don’t know we started this way back when.”

 The next phase for the project will include sidewalks from Columbia Drive to Covington Highway. Design of this phase is expected to start in late 2017, according to county officials.

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