Feb 3, 2023 - News

Buford Highway pedestrian safety gets a funding boost

Illustration of a pedestrian crossing sign with a dollar sign.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

If you think driving on Buford Highway is the opposite of relaxation, try walking. New funding, however, might make it less of a nightmare for pedestrians.

Why it matters: Though designed for cars, Buford Highway is used by a surprising number of pedestrians going to work, school, shopping, or medical appointments.

Driving the news: $1.5 million in federal funding will help make the highway safer and more accessible along a stretch in Doraville between I-285 and Longmire Way.

Details: That money, secured by Sen. Jon Ossoff, will be spent on audible push buttons for crosswalks; landscaping; benches, bike racks, and waste receptacles; curb ramps, and more.

  • State and local officials, along with community advocates like We Love Buford Highway, have spent more than $50 million — and more than a decade — to add pedestrian refuges, bright crossing signals, and other projects to slow down cars.

Zoom out: Within just a few miles on Buford Highway, the average person could buy churros at La Churreria, banh mi at Lee's, and Chinese at Canton House. But food shopping by foot is a gamble.

  • For decades, traffic planners have prioritized the speed of automobiles over the safety of pedestrians on Buford Highway. Doraville has seen more than 30 crashes involving pedestrians over the past five years.

By the numbers: GDOT says a hectic rollercoaster segment from Lenox Road to the Doraville city limits — once one of Georgia’s most dangerous — hasn't seen a pedestrian death in roughly five years thanks to new medians and other safety fixes.

  • Another project is scheduled to finish construction in 2015.

Of note: Much of Metro Atlanta's immigrant population and their families have flocked to Buford Highway over the decades for its affordable housing and sense of community.

  • The multicultural corridor is facing gentrification and displacement as development pressures from surrounding cities like Brookhaven encroach on the thoroughfare.

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