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Buford Hwy. Median Plans Eyeballed

Design concept passed by split 3-2 Duluth City Council vote. Two restaurants concerned that median break across from Duluth Rexall Drugs/Rexall Grill will hurt their business.

By a split 3-2 vote, the Duluth City Council Monday (Aug 13) accepted the design concept for proposed Buford Highway medians. The raised medians would run from Ga. Hwy. 120 to Daveport Road with two breaks.

The design also includes landscaping and sidewalks. “We’re calling it a median project, but it really is a streetscape project,’ said Duluth Planning Director Glenn Coyne.

The two breaks in the medians would allow left-hand turns into businesses on Buford Highway. Based on traffic counts, the median breaks are proposed to be located across from / and Fox Street. Originally, only one median break had been proposed, Coyne said.

Councilman Greg Whitlock said that [the owner of] the Family Restaurant is concerned because one of the median breaks directs traffic into its competition. A representative of the Dairy Queen appeared and told the council that the current design would hurt its business and benefit Rexall Drugs/Rexall Grill. The Rexall Grill is a popular place to eat with busy driveway traffic.

Councilmen Jim Dugan, Billy Jones and Kelly Kelkenberg voted to approve the design concept for the median project. Council members Marsha Bomar and Whitlock voted against it.

The design concept now will be sent to GDOT for review. Councilwoman Marsha Bomar commented that GDOT usually requires more separation between medians.

The City was awarded an initial Transportation Enhancement (TE) Grant in the amount of $300,000 in 2009 and second TE grant in the amount $150,000 in 2011 for the median project. Matching funds for the two grants using 2005 and 2009 SPLOST monies already have been budgeted by the city.

In other business, the council:

  • Approved erecting no parking signs on the north side of Hailston Drive in Sugarloaf Ridge. The signs were requested by Susan Nolin, president of the Sugarloaf Ridge HOA. Hailston Drive is narrow. Regular and emergency vehicles have difficulty getting through when cars are parked on both sides of the street.
  • Adopted guidelines recommended by the Gateway Art Project Committee for a permanent piece of original art to be installed on the recently completed roundabout. Councilwoman Bomar has volunteered to serve as the council’s representative on the committee. The GAP Committee expects to issue a call for artists to design the art Sept. 4. It next meets at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 28 in the Community Room at Duluth City Hall. GAP Committee meetings are open to the public.
  • Awarded a contract up to $320,000 to Gary’s Grading and Pipeline for four high-priority stormwater utility projects. These are the first projects to be funded by the city’s new stormwater utility fees.
  • Accepted a bid of $23,054 and awarded a contract to Renaissance-BCI for restoration of washed out stream banks and a pedestrian bridge at the rear of W.P. Jones Park. The city plans to use SPLOST park funds for the project. This work will be done while the park is closed for construction of a senior activity center and installation of replacement playground equipment.
  • Waived user fees for the Duluth Cluster School Foundation to host a fund-raising gala Oct. 12 on the Duluth Town Green. The waiver did not include staff, security and clean-up fees.
DavidE August 21, 2012 at 01:47 PM
I agree.. I don't see how it can be justified. They are usually installed to reduce accidents in areas where it is becoming a problem or dangerous. Just like the roundabout, they had money (our money) to burn.
DavidE August 21, 2012 at 01:50 PM
Also, it will hurt businesses in that area. They want to redevelop that area, this will make it tougher to get investment since it will limit the access to the properties.
Mack August 27, 2012 at 04:35 PM
@ David E You have common sense, The council of Duluth does not have common sense. This is yet another plan to choke business in Duluth. There is one good thing that may come of this is that the Dulut PD can not run radar in that area so that will decrease income. The roundabout is a complete joke and totally unnecessary, a 3 way would have been a better and cheaper. Just like the 510K dog park.
DavidE August 27, 2012 at 05:02 PM
The intention might be to put the smaller businesses out of business so the area could be redeveloped with a Suwanee touch. Maybe I should run for City Council. However, I have made a lot of enemies with my opinions though.
Annet Granger September 26, 2012 at 09:11 PM
The project is being funded through the TE Grant program, the benefits to medians beyond beautification are pedestrian safety, some statistics if anyone cares to do some research are the following; 1. Have been found to reduce motor vehicle crashes by 15 percent 2. Have resulted in increase in capacity (>30 percent) of roadways 3. Have been shown to reduce vehicle speeds on the roadway 4. Provide space for landscaping within the right-of-way 5. Provide space to install additional roadway lighting, further improving the safety of the roadway 6. Provide space to provide supplemental signage on multi-lane roadways 7. Can be less expensive to build and maintain than paved medians Roundabouts are proven to be more efficient than stop signs. There are other roads being planned that will enter this interesection.

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