Category Archives: Planning

As plans are unveiled for an elevated expressway on Abercorn, DeRenne remains in limbo

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It’s been some time since Project DeRenne has made the news. The last mention I could find of the once-much-talked-about plan to alter Savannah’s DeRenne Avenue is a WSAV-TV story from July: Project DeRenne Among Those That Would Receive Funds from Transportation Sales Tax.

My thoughts returned to DeRenne Avenue recently, when news began to emerge about a plan for an elevated expressway on Abercorn Street. The Savannah Morning News’ Eric Curl explains the proposal includes, “An elevated expressway that would stand about 35 feet above Abercorn’s median and separate regional and local drivers.”

Project DeRenne, too, sought to balance the needs of regional drivers, local drivers and residents who live along the corridor. When DeRenne Avenue became a major route for commuters from western counties, the effects on the neighborhoods it bisects are manifested in both easily recognizable and more subtle ways.

On a sunday morning in January 2008, I tried to document the details of a landscape that most people try to ignore. Here’s what I wrote at that time:

“When a streetscape is designed to maximize the flow of motor vehicles the results are as predictable as they are ugly. Yet we may not comprehend how desolate the built environment becomes when it is designed exclusively to move cars. Traffic becomes a distraction, drawing our attention away from the ways that it degrades the spaces, public and private, at the edge of the roadway. But when we strip away the cars, we can see how much damage they have done. If we continue to put the needs of cars ahead of the needs of people, we’ll get more of the same and likely worse.”

Almost five years later, has anything changed on DeRenne Avenue?

On bicycles and employment

City of Savannah Mobility and Parking Director Sean Brandon has a guest post at the Creative Coast blog this morning, which makes important points about poverty, employment, planning and creative communities:

“I have found repeatedly that the person that takes their bicycle on an inhospitable street is trying to do the very thing that many complain those in poverty don’t do: get to and from their job.”

You can read the whole post here.

CORE MPO seeks citizen input on Total Mobility Plan

The Coastal Region Metropolitan Planning Organization is hosting a series of meetings to solicit citizen input on the Total Mobility Plan:

“The Total Mobility Plan is an in-depth planning effort which will emphasize sustainability, Complete Streets, Context Sensitive Design, non-motorized transportation and transit. The Plan will address the transportation network and specific facilities, but also the interaction between transportation and the community as a whole.  The thoroughfare planning component will address facilities for auto traffic, bicycles, pedestrians, and public transit vehicles, including intersections.  Workshop attendees will map context areas, creating a vision of the desired character in each community. The thoroughfare standards will then be shaped to achieve that vision.”

It’s encouraging to hear the phrase Complete Streets used in this context, as many of the area’s most important streets are woefully incomplete when it comes to safely accommodating pedestrians, bicyclists and transit riders. The meetings will be held at the following times and locations from 5-6:30 p.m., and will use a “Drop in when you can!” format.

Tuesday, Jan. 10
Islands High School Career Counseling Center, 170 Whitemarsh Island Road

Tuesday, Jan. 17
Armstrong Atlantic State University – Armstrong Center, 13040 Abercorn St.

Thursday, Jan. 19
First Presbyterian Church, 520 Washington Ave.

For more information, contact Mark Wilkes at (912) 651-1451 or wilkesm [at] thempc.org

Nov. 14 mayoral candidate forum will focus on transportation and sustainability

Savannah mayoral candidates Edna Jackson and Jeff Felser will field questions about their positions on transportation and sustainability issues Monday, Nov. 14 at 6:30 p.m. Hosted by the Savannah Bicycle Campaign, US Green Building Council-Savannah Branch and League of Women Voters, the forum will be held at the Coastal Georgia Center, 305 Fahm St.  The forum will start at 6:30 p.m., following a brief reception, and will be moderated by Jim Morekis, editor-in-chief of Connect Savannah.

“As we choose our next mayor, it’s more important than ever to ensure that Savannah grows into the future and grows wisely,” said Mark Fitzpatrick, Chair of the US Green Building Council-Savannah Branch. “Through this forum, candidates can express their vision for how Savannah can be a leader by demonstrating responsible stewardship of our environment while incorporating innovative strategies as part of that solution.”

“We’ve seen a tremendous increase in the use of bicycles for transportation in the community. The City of Savannah government has been a positive influence in that growth, and we hope this forum allows candidates the chance to address how they will help continue this trend and also make transit and pedestrian options more viable,” said Drew Wade, Chairman of the Savannah Bicycle Campaign. “Several long-term transportation planning efforts are reaching the point where those decisions become a critical part of the community we live with for the next several decades; we need to make the right decisions.”

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Frank McIntosh at 912-272-1074 or frank@bicyclecampaign.org.

Dawers targets exit ramp removal myth

If you read the comments on Savannah Morning News stories about the proposed removal of the I-16 flyover, you’ll get a strong dose of windshield perspective. It’s clear that many critics of the plan use one main criteria for evaluating its feasibility. Those who believe removal of the exit ramp will cause traffic congestion and extend their commutes by extra seconds (annoying) or even minutes (intolerable) downplay the advantages of removal or deny there are any advantages at all.

Bill Dawers does a fine job on his blog of addressing this oft-repeated objection to removing the flyover:

“The single weakest argument against the removal is also the one that I hear the most, at least among those objections dealing with traffic. As I noted in the column, I’m constantly hearing people say that MLK can’t handle the additional incoming traffic, but every single car leaving the city via I-16 has to travel on or across MLK already.”

Read more here.