Officials and neighborhood residents applauded improvements to a section of Davenport Road off Buford Highway and snipped a purple ribbon stretched across the road Thursday (Sept. 1) afternoon. The ceremony celebrated completion of improvements that included new five-foot sidewalks on both sides of the road, curb and gutter, drainage, resurfacing, and widening to accommodate two full-lane widths.
Several residents walked over to the ribbon-cutting ceremony from their homes on the new sidewalks, which increase pedestrian mobility and safety in the neighborhood. The new sidewalks also make it easier for residents to walk to nearby downtown Duluth.
Before the sidewalks were installed, mothers pushing strollers and residents carrying loads of laundry or grocery bags walking on the edge of the narrow, curvy road and dodging traffic were a frequent sight. The busy road serves as a shortcut from the area to the city of Duluth. The situation made residents, worried about motorists hitting the pedestrians, nervous.
Duluth Mayor Nancy Harris welcomed guests. Other city officials participating in the ceremony included City Councilman Greg Whitlock, City Councilwoman Marsha Bomar, Planning Director Glenn Coyne, City Administrator Phil McLemore, Economic Development Manager Chris McGahee, City Clerk Teresa Lynn, Marketing and Public Information Officer Alisa Williams, Finance Director Ken Sakmar, Planner Melissa Moscato, and representatives of the Public Works Department.
In attendance were Neil Kantnor, Georgia Department of Transportation District 1 design engineer, and representatives of engineering firms and project managers involved in the Davenport Road improvements including Adolfo Guzman and Joe Garland of Clark Patterson Lee; Ligia Florim, president of Bron Cleveland; and Wright Aldridge of Moreland Altobelli Associates.
Also present were Anthony Adibe, president of the contractor SD&C Inc., which finished the road improvements in six months ahead of the Oct. 1 completion date, and Adesina Tewoghade, who served as the project manager for SD&C.
Coyne thanked everyone involved in the project including the residents along the street. “We tried to get through it without a lot of pain and agony,” he said.
The 2,400 linear feet of Davenport Road improvements starts near Windsor Gate Run (the entrance of Windsor Gate subdivision) and continues past Bromley Row/Delma Court. Pedestrian crosswalks have been painted on side streets. The new sidewalks link to existing walkways that lead to Buford Highway.
The project was funded by GDOT’s Transportation Enhancement (TE) program and High Priority Project matching grant program in combination with Duluth SPLOST money. A sign proclaiming “Your SPLOST Pennies at Work” has been erected at the entrance to the project.
Kantnor expressed appreciation to the city of Duluth, city staff, Clark Patterson Lee, and Bron Cleveland for helping the project become reality. “It’s done wonders for the area,” he said. “I think the residents are real pleased with the outcome.”
Completion of the road project has awakened neighborhood pride, prompting residents to clean up and improve their yards.
“This is a great looking project,” said Mayor Harris. She compared it to throwing a pebble in a pond and creating a ripple effect. “That’s exactly what happened in this area of Duluth,” she said. The city plans to extend Davenport Road across Buford Highway connecting the neighborhood directly to downtown, she said.
Jeanne Hall provided her family homeplace on Davenport Road as the site for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “I like it. It looks nice,“ she said about the road now.
“The improved safety, in my point of view, is the best thing that could have happened,” Montheath Pass resident Don Singer said. “It was just a matter of time before someone had an accident.”
The new sidewalks mean that 75-year-old Shirley Duke can walk for exercise in her own neighborhood. “I get out every morning and walk both sides of the sidewalks, down and back,” she said. “Before, I used to have to walk other places.”
“I walk my dogs every single day,” said Windsor Gate Run resident Hanya Whyte, “but it wasn’t very safe. To those of us who use the road, we really appreciate it.”
“I’m so thankful,” said Alana Moss, who also lives in the Windsor Gate subdivision. “I worried every day that someone would be injured.”
Commemorative pins were handed out at the conclusion of the ceremony.