Road diet aims to slim down Monroe Drive


Katie Wood

Vehicles crowding Monroe at the end of the school day, one of the street’s busiest hours.

Monroe Drive, one of the most highly traveled streets in Midtown Atlanta, is also one of the most dangerous. A Grady former student, Alexa Hyneman, was killed in 2016 by a speeding car on Monroe. The Atlanta City Council is taking steps to prevent these types of accidents.

The Atlanta City Council has decided to implement a road diet, a transportation planning technique which reduces the number of lanes, to make the street safer. The proposed plan for the road diet reduces Monroe from four lanes to three, one in each direction, with a dedicated turning lane in the center.

Renew Atlanta is an infrastructure improvement program that funds city improvements through the Renew Atlanta infrastructure bond program.

A study conducted by Renew Atlanta confirmed that Monroe Drive is one of the most dangerous streets in Atlanta. Monroe has four times as many crashes as the average street. . Two fatal accidents occurred on the street in just one year.

Monroe is a four-lane road with no turning lanes and average distance between most traffic lights. This promotes speeding and lane weaving to avoid turning cars that have no designated turn lane. Drivers often ignore the speed limit and fly down Monroe at high speeds.

George Van Horne, a forensic engineer, lives on Monroe and sees the speeding firsthand.

If implemented, I expect that the diet will make it safer for us all to not only cross the street, but to make it simpler to walk down the sidewalk,” Van Horne said. “Over the years, I have personally experienced three speeding cars careening off the roadway and crashing into yards.  One each on either side of my house, plus one in front of my own door.”

If the road diet plan is implemented, crashes are predicted to decline by up to 47 percent, according to studies nationwide of previously implemented road diets. Though Monroe Drive could become safer, traffic could increase if the plan becomes reality.

Taking away a lane on one of the busiest streets in Atlanta will cause major delays and backups. Monroe already has backups during rush hour traffic, so eliminating of a lane will create more slow-moving traffic.

“It will slow down traffic on Monroe at current usages,” Dana Persons, the traffic chair on the MNA board said. “But we all know that residential and mixed-use developments will increase car traffic over time, so it will likely slow down car traffic more than we can even comprehend.”

Grady, located right off Monroe between 10th Street and 8th Street, will be affected. Although much of rush hour traffic can be attributed to students, parents and teachers piling in at the same time, the bigger concern is safety. “Hopefully, the road diet will make pedestrians and biking safer,” Persons said. “However, it will increase commute times for teachers and students, and we need to be prepared for that.”

People don’t typically enjoy sitting in traffic on Monroe for longer than needed, but there doesn’t seem to be any other solution to increase safety the way the road diet will.

“The road diet is the best and only solution that will provide 24-hour-a-day improvements to all of the safety issues facing Monroe —speeding, blind spots from left turns, weaving to avoid left turn lines,” said Jenifer Keenan, former co-chair of the Virginia-Highland Master Plan and president of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association. “Neither increased police ticketing, nor speed humps can provide 24-hour-a-day improvements to all these safety issues.”

There is currently a 70 percent approval rate at the Renew Atlanta meeting, with some people still objecting to longer wait times in traffic. The road diet plan is expected to be confirmed at a Renew Atlanta meeting in March.

“The most important benefit of the Monroe road diet will be increased safety,” Van Horne said. “Cars will have to slow down. That will save lives.  How can anyone compare the inconvenience of a slower transit time to a human life?”

For more coverage on safety issues concerning Monroe Drive, please see:


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