Decatur Development Blog

Expansion and Development in the Greater Decatur area

Posts Tagged ‘Atlanta’

Driving Decatur to the Future – Keys to Success: Transportation

Posted by alalto on January 21, 2011


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BTW, I’m trying something new.  I’ve included lots and lots of links to various pictures and pages that might help you to better understand these topics.  I hope you enjoy, and maybe laugh a little along the way.  Thanx!

Transportation

Transportation is absolutely ESSENTIAL to the vitality of our regions as we grow into the future.  As our population continues to grow, our industries continue to expand, and our tourism attributes continue to grow in popularity our infrastructure MUST be able to cope.  This is not one of those “I’d like to have it,” details, it’s a “MUST HAVE.”

Why Gorgonn Will Always Be Wrong About This

We all acknowledge the level of stupidity that Gorgonn possesses.  By the way, if you don’t know who “Gorgonn” is, please refer to the post I published on January 16th, 2011.  We constantly hear Gorgonn whining that transportation expansion only leads to pollution, traffic, and commutes.  I think we can all agree that in some ways, Gorgonn could be correct, after all someone had to come up with the tangled web of roads in suburban Atlanta

Anyways, if done incorrectly and not planned properly, YES, roads can lead to even more congestion, pollution, and longer commutes.  This is all something that people hate about an expanding city.  The good thing is, there are ways to accomplish the improvement of our infrastructure with out causing massive Gorgonnathon in the form of congestion.

There are certain things that need to be accomplished, and I am certain will do nothing but improve traffic.  Here’s my list:

  1. Designate US ALT 72/AL 20 controlled access on the Northside (the northern reaches of the city limits in Limestone County).
  2. Begin to examine the construction of overpasses on Beltline Road.
  3. Examine safety concerns along 6th Avenue.
  4. Adopt a “Complete Streets” initiative.
  5. Find ways to improve mass transit.

Each of these 5 points has the potential to improve traffic and reduce headaches.  Gorgonn will deny that any of these would work, I do not lie.

Designation of US ALT 72/AL 20 (Northside) as Controlled Access

This is something that the planning commission is currently considering.  I believe they will eventually adopt this and the long process of completely remaking the road network on the Northside will begin.

This is one of the more trans-formative initiatives.  With this, there is the potential for massive economic investment and population growth.   The fact that we haven’t yet seen some type of development on the Northside is something that still amazes me.  If Bass Pro eventually sets up shop over there, which they still seem intent on doing, I think you can count on a ridiculous amount of growth following it’s construction.

How does this help traffic?  I think we all know that.  Gorgonn would say that it doesn’t, but I seriously doubt that Gorgonn has sat through rush hour traffic on that route.  Declaring this route controlled access basically streamlines the process of getting to the bridges after work on weekdays.  Will it help you get through that darn traffic light once you cross the river?  No, but it will help you get there more quickly, which still means that you cut valuable time out of your commute.

Decatur Planning Commission has approved this plan, but the city council still has to approve it as an ordinance before it can have any effect.  I’m sure the council will approve it, not too worried.  But, this could take some time to implement.

Begin to examine the construction of overpasses on Beltline Road

I’m not talking about an all out Memorial Parkway-ing of the Beltline, no.  I’m speaking about adding overpasses and service roads (like the ones on Memorial Parkway) at certain points along the road where high traffic occurs.  So, basically one, two, maybe three intersections. 

Which intersections?  I say Danville Road, US ALT 72/AL 20, and Spring Avenue.  I leave out 6th Avenue because I think it would cost way too much due to all of the businesses and stuff that would have to be relocated to accomplish this.  Basically, it’d be a huge pain in the butt.  It’d be kinda like trying to build a massive world-class hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea… 

Examine Safety Concerns Along 6th Avenue

What do I mean by this?  Have you ever noticed that all too often the road itself it higher than the curb that is meant to contain it?  No the road didn’t decide it wanted to get bigger, nor did we just feed it too much and it got fat.  This has been caused by magnificent human ingenuity!

Anyways, what does this mean, this odd road level, relative to the curbs?  Well, it means basically that our sidewalks are functionally obsolete.  Why, we all know that Gorgonn is asking why does this matter?  Who needs sidewalks?  Well, in order to assure that our roads aren’t overrun with cars that are simply driving down the street to McDonalds or other small trips we need them.  Plus, has anyone noticed that the USA has an obesity problem?  Problem is, our city doesn’t facilitate pedestrian movement.

Really though, it all needs to be fixed.  This problem, as simple as it may be, causes problems ranging from sanitation, disease, drainage, safety, to functionality.

In addition, we need more crosswalks.  More crosswalks means more foot traffic for parks and businesses.  At the moment, it is truly dangerous to cross the road in Decatur.  There are only about 4 or 5 crosswalks with signals on 6th Avenue and that needs to change.

Adopt A “Complete Streets” Initiative

This is something that I doubt anyone who’s reading this has heard of.  You can see an adequate example of it along Modaus Road between the Beltline and Danville Road.

Complete Streets insures that all forms of traffic (at least those using feet and tires) are able to utilize a street.  This includes sidewalks, bike lanes, and the usual street features.  This isn’t something that is done in one sweeping project, but rather something that is phased in.  Each time a road is repaved, or maybe repainted, it is redone with Complete Streets in mind.  Usually a city will start out just phasing in the bike lanes and get to the sidewalks later since they’re so much more expensive.

This initiative reduces the need for cars and also increases that foot traffic that I was talking about earlier.

What about Gorgonn?!  Right now, Gorgonn is grumbling in his/her lair about how we don’t need sidewalks or bike lanes, because no one will use them!  The fact is that no one uses the ones we have because we don’t have any!  The ones we do have are inadequate and don’t connect to a larger network that allows them to be functional. A part of these kinds of problems is that people do not connect the dots.  It’s just like your internet, (think of your feet as a wifi receiver on your laptop and sidewalks as the internet), it doesn’t matter if you have a wifi receiver if there’s no internet to connect to.

Find Ways To Improve Mass Transit

This is a biggie.  Many people don’t like transit, and there are valid reasons, but I tend to believe that benefits outweigh costs.

Now, I’m typically someone who doesn’t agree with government providing freebies or running programs that in turn run deficits, but I’m a fan of mass transit.  Why?  Not only because Gorgonn detests mass transit but because it increases mobility, allowing people to get into town and spend money that they normally wouldn’t.  Also, it brings more people into downtown areas, increasing the likelihood that these redevelopments will succeed.  MT also encourages a city to be a regional center for commerce, bringing in people from surrounding areas.

An even more important part of mass transit is the regional aspect.  I’m not talking of Hartselle to Decatur, or Priceville to Decatur, but the larger region.  I’m speaking of connecting the larger regional centers of the Tennessee Valley.  I suggested the idea of creating inter-city bus routes between Decatur and Huntsville once to a city councilman and he simply couldn’t believe that I would support the idea of a program that would encourage Decatur citizens to leave the city and spend all of their cash in Huntsville.  Please…

Has anyone ever heard of the city of Fort Worth?  They face this same issue with Dallas…  yet… they have miles and miles of rail and bus routes connecting the two cities.  I think it’s safe to say that the leaders in Fort Worth are more worried about the relationship and interconnection that the two cities of Dallas and Fort Worth have than immature sales tax jealousy.  BTW, it wasn’t a city councilman that is currently in office.

What I’m trying to say is that citizens in Fort Worth are going to go to Dallas no matter what if Fort Worth doesn’t have what they want.  The same goes for Decatur and Huntsville…  Decatur citizens are going to head to Huntsville no matter what if Decatur doesn’t have what they need.  The question is, are we going to take advantage of this relationship and build on it?  Or are we going to continue pretending that the 20 miles that separate our downtowns might as well be the distance of the Pacific Ocean?

Just pretend for a second that Decatur is Los Angeles, and Huntsville is Tokyo...

Next Topic: Industrial Recruitment and Tourism

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Tuesday’s Referendum

Posted by alalto on April 16, 2010


Following Tuesday’s referendum, I have begun to feel optimistic enough start posting again on here. While it’s possible that the Justice Department might not OK the council-manager government, the Sunday alcohol sales approval is enough that it could positively impact the city in numerous ways.

Benefits of Sunday alcohol sales

1) A wider variety of restaurants: It’s a well known fact that there are many restaurants that usually won’t even think about going to a city that doesn’t allow Sunday alcohol sales. True, some will move to cities that don’t allow the sales, but that usually only occurs in large metropolitan areas like Birmingham, Nashville, Atlanta, and on up.

Now, restaurants that could potential begin looking at Decatur, now that the sale of alcohol is allowed on Sundays, are Olive Garden, Buffalo Wild Wings, Carrabba’s, etc… And now that Longhorn Steakhouse is already establishing itself in Decatur, the research, facts, and demographics have already been looked at and people know the situation. That’s not to say that we’re going to be seeing these things pop up over night, it’s going to take time.

As far as location goes, I’d like to see at least one restaurant locate downtown that is investing in the city because of Sunday sales.

2) Increased tax revenue: In this kind of economic climate, every municipality could benefit from some extra tax dollars. While restaurants take time to develop, increased tax revenues will be felt more readily. I’m not sure how these tax dollars will be allocated, I think the jury is still out on how the city will use the money.

Council-manager

I’ve always been a fan of this form of government, because it cuts out a lot of red tape and creates a more fluid government. Unfortunately, there’s no telling how this will go when the Justice Department looks at it. Billy Jackson sees the whole approval of this switch as an attempt to stomp out the minority vote in the city and I hope that his constituents have taken notice of his willingness to work with other officials in creating a system that works for everyone, not just the majority of Decaturites.

What is possible is that the state legislature could attempt to make an exception for the city in this situation to change the make up of the future council. For example, instead of having three districts, there could be five, allowing for what we currently have in the way of District 1, which gives the minority vote a seat on the council.

I’m hopeful that something good will come of all this, but you can never tell.

Anyways, I expect to post on here more frequently now that I have a bit more time on my hands, and I’m a little more optimistic.

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Ready for a rebound?

Posted by alalto on October 15, 2008


Is Decatur ready for a rebound in this horrid economy?
(btw, if you only wanna read about Decatur’s economy, just scroll down to the bottom)

I’m thinkin it is. Take a look at the Decatur Daily… If you take out all the stories about what’s happening nationally and you focus on what’s happening in the state, it appears that the economy in Alabama is just business as usual. That’s not to say that there isn’t a problem going on that we just can’t see. There is, we know it. National stock declines have an effect on all publically (sp?) traded companies, and there are a lot of those in Alabama.

First of all, we have been very fortunate. The bank that holds the largest amount of the banking market in Alabama (Regions Financial) has been effected by the economic slump. Forunately for our state, the Southeaster United States isn’t in as bad a shape as the rest of the country. The economic conditions going on will only magnify the Northern cities that are experience a mass exodus of their population. Which cities are these? Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Buffalo. These were the major manufacturing centers of the 20th Century and they’ve been going through a rough time in the past few decades.

Let’s compare these northern cities to some southern ones. New Orleans, Birmingham, Mobile and to some extent Jackson. Detroit and New Orleans, major manufacturing cities, shipping ports and a hub of culture and money. That isn’t so anymore. Pittsburgh and Birmingham. THERE is where you’ll find a HUGE contrast. Read below:

Pittsburgh and Birmingham:

Here’s how I look at it, enormous manufacturing cities all go through I process that I like to call “eating/digesting themselves”. Both Pitt and Bham were huge steel producing cities, so they’re easy to compare. Birmingham has done a fantastic job and the city is in it’s last leg of the digestion process. These cities have to nearly collapse and fail before they can be reborn and turn into regions burgeoning with economic prosperity. Pittsburgh has just begun their journey down the throat. Birmingham was fortunate that when the steel industry in the U.S. began to shrink, the mills went to Pittsburgh. Why was that good? The city had to find a place to create jobs, which is where UAB came in. UAB, the largest employer in the state and a university that has a multi-billion dollar impact on the state’s economy. Yes, Pitt has some great schools, but they have not been the focus of job creation to replace the aging steel industry.

To stop comparing cities, let’s focus on why Alabama is more primed for a rebound than other states. Two main reason, IMO, slow growth (stable economy) and prime developable land.

Take a look at this map:

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Some of my opinions…

Posted by alalto on August 31, 2008


Ok, so, to reply to some of the comments I’ve gotten lately.

I do live in Decatur. I live in the Brookmeade area in SE Decatur. I’ve lived in Decatur all but one year of my life. I attended Eastwood, Oak Park, and Decatur High. I am a very proud citizen of Decatur.

That being said, I’d like to clarify something. I know I seem very pessimistic about Don Stanford, and I apologize for that. I shouldn’t have used the title “Optimism has left the building…”. I actually am optimistic that Don Stanford can do a good job, and I intend to support him in most everything he does. That is, so long as the things he is doing are things that I think will benefit the city.

It’s the same thing with the presidential race. I am a conservative, but if a liberal were to be elected, I would support them to make the right decision. No matter who wins elections, they deserve respect and support. Because without either of those, we can never expect them to do a good job. Bud Cramer was one of those politicians that had both respect and support from his citizens, and I think we all know how well that worked.

Yea, I realize that it was bad that Don Kyle was just STARTING to have a vision, but I believe that since I was not old enough to vote in that election when he was elected, it’s better late than never.

Again, I do apologize. I do not hate Don Stanford, nor do I wish for him to be unsuccessful. For, if he is unsuccessful, the Decatur would not be the winner. I think you all know that I want Decatur to be the winner.

I also apologize for any spelling mistakes that I make. Haha, I just got home from Atlanta from the Alabama v Clemson game. Needless to say, I’m exhausted after having marched a halftime show and blowing my lungs out, and screaming at the top of my lungs.

Have a good day. It’s likely I won’t be waking up for about 12 hours…

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