Macon-Bibb Planning and Zoning released their plans to reimagine the Riverside Drive corridor. Representatives from Stantec, an Atlanta-based engineering company, held a public meeting to show case the ideas. Yvonne Thomas sat in on the meeting and heard from engineers and residents.
On Wednesday morning, the community got a first look at the action plan and what the Riverside Drive could look like someday. “Riverside Drive is a complicated corridor. It is a state and federal route, so we're working with that,” said Andrew Kohr, Stantec Associate.
Associates from Stantec presented a three-phase transformation plan. Each phase could take six to nine months. “There's a lot of history on the corridor that we'll talk about, but also, there's barriers to change,” said Kohr.
Phase one affects Madison to Spring Street. The plan is to narrow the traffic lanes, add a raised median, and improve access to the Riverside Cemetery. The cost is an estimated $5 million. “That Spring Street intersection is a bugaboo. I thought the meeting was great to see all the work that's gone into the planning,” said resident Emily Hopkins.
Phase 2 covers Spring Street to First Street. Kohr says contractors would remove one travel lane and add a left turn lane from Riverside Drive to Spring Street heading west. The estimated cost $2.5 million. “I really like the idea. I drive there every day and I see people walking, and it's not a pedestrian-friendly area,” said Scott Mitchell.
And Phase 3 is First Street to MLK Boulevard. The plan is to add a buffer zone for cyclists and pedestrians and more parallel parking spaces between Broadway and Third. The estimated cost is $3 million. “We're trying to start the process in our role as planners for the community and provide options for the community to consider,” said Brad Belo with Macon-Bibb Planning and Zoning.
The next step is getting approval from county commissioners and the mayor. Also, the county must also find a way to fund the nearly $10 million project. Belo says because Riverside Drive is a state route, the funds could come from many places. A few options Belo says could be the Department of Transportation SPLOST funds, or state Improvement District Funds.