Since the tragic crash on Donald Lee Hollowell (DLH) with 14-year old Jermaine “JJ” Wallace, it’s hard to drive the stretch without thinking about the loss of a community member. The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly difficult and challenging for the entire Center Hill Neighborhood community. My heart and prayers go out to the Wallace family as we mourn Jermaine’s life and the unrealized potential of what could have been.
While this is a heart-wrenchingly painful time for the entire Center Hill Neighborhood community, I am overwhelmed by the support I’ve received from leaders all over the city.
I was pleased to receive support from many organizations from outside of the Center Hill Neighborhood like the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition who were greatly saddened to hear of the crash that killed Jermaine and they wanted to do something to support my efforts to make Hollowell safer. I have also solicited input from a broad range of individuals and groups with various perspectives and will continue to do so.
Within the wake of Jermaine’s death, I’ve researched traffic calming measures that will make DLH a safer corridor for all residents of Center Hill but one solution has caught my eye- the “Imagine Memorial Drive” project. Similar to DLH, Memorial Drive functions more like a highway than a street that connects neighborhoods. At the time, Memoria Drive was a four-lane road, fast and hilly with no center turn lane. According to the Georgia Department of Transporation, there had been 1,000 crashes in the past five years on Memorial Drive. They had serious crashes almost every day somewhere on the corridor and people were getting fed up.
In 2017, two women were killed within 6 months of each other on a half-mile stretch. It took about two years, but neighbors came together and in 2019 they were able to convince GDOT to install a “road diet” which converted two inside lanes into a center turn lane, and adding some signalized crossings.
The Imagine Memorial Drive Project is a proven strategy that could be used on Hollowell so this tragedy doesn’t happen again. The biggest thing is slowing down cars and changing how the road is designed has the biggest effect. Lowering the speed limit can lower speeding as well. In light of this discussion, Center Hill’s name will be added to the list of speed limit speed limit reduction support.
Another positive component to the project’s success was the support from the adjacent neighborhoods who organized in support of changes. I want to encourage all neighbors in NPU-J to support the changes in the days and weeks to come.
I also think it’s important to remember that Atlanta’s Westside has its own unique set of challenges and we will explore all possible solutions to making our roads safe here. In addition to advocating for lower speed limits, it is also important that we have a presence in the city level as well. This fall, the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition is seeking to connect neighborhood leaders with GDOT to call for safer state routes and I will be there to share my thoughts during this meeting.
I have no doubt that we can continuously improve the neighborhood environment of our entire community for new to legacy residents, the young and beyond and I look forward to working together with you to do so! Together, we will get through this. We are one Atlanta.