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Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School Gets $499,926.01 For Safe Routes Initiative

Grant to promote student biking and walking to school but conflicts with planned QuikTrip on a portion of the route

Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School, which operates the Atlanta Charter Middle School in Ormewood Park and Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School in Grant Park, received a grant for $499,926.01 from the federal Safe Routes To Schools.

The program is designed to reduce congestion, improve safety and promote the health benefits of kids either walking or biking to school.

The grant, given to the City Public Works Department through the Georgia Department of Transportation, will be used to:

  • Install a sidewalk on the northeast section of Ormewood Avenue between Moreland and Woodland avenues
  • Create bike lanes on this section of Ormewood and possible repaving
  • Install “No Parking, Bike Lane” signs on both sides of Ormewood Avenue
  • Eliminate curb cuts on this section of Ormewood to remove points of conflict with bicyclists and motor vehicles.

But that part of that route designated as safe for kids to use — Ormewood Avenue — is at the center of a controversial plan to build a QuikTrip gas station and convenience store.

The proposed project, which would bring the QT to the intersection of Moreland and Ormewood avenues, has been met with stiff opposition from area residents in Ormewood Park, East Atlanta and surrounding neighborhoods.

Opponents say there are more suitable commercial tracts further south on Moreland and that QT's plan — which call for entrance to the property on the side streets of Ormewood and Hall avenues, not Moreland — would force more heavy traffic into the residential neighborhoods.

That Ormewood Avenue is the designated route for children to walk and bike to the Atlanta Charter Middle School on Essie Avenue, makes a more compelling argument against it, they say. Moreland Avenue is already hard enough to cross at the Ormewood Avenue intersection, even for motorists, they argue.

About a third of 200 students at the Essie Avenue campus walk or bike at least once a week, Matt Underwood, the school principal told East Atlanta Patch Tuesday.

In May, he wrote Atlanta City Council members Carla Smith and Natalyn Archibong, urging them to block the QT proposal.

"These side streets were not designed to accommodate the volume of car and truck traffic generated by a business operation such as QT, which will undoubtedly create an abnormally high number of vehicle trips in these road sections, and likely on the nearby neighborhood streets between Moreland Avenue and both ANCS campuses," Underwood wrote in his May 6 letter.

"Moreover, the QT ingress/egress point on Ormewood Avenue will create a major safety conflict point with the Ormewood Avenue bicycle route and pedestrian route used by our students and teachers, and with specific improvements in this Safe Routes to School route that are the subject of our infrastructure grant application."

QT, which notes its convenience stores are designated safe havens for runaways and teens in trouble, has said it is reviewing its plans and while it understands neighborhood concerns, it is committed to that site.

The Georgia Department of Transportation, which is responsible for Moreland Avenue because it is a state route, did not return a telephone call seeking comment Tuesday.

Terry Roth July 05, 2011 at 08:47 PM
This is great news for East Atlanta, Ormewood Park and Grant Park neighborhoods as well as ANCS, Parkside and Wesley families. It is a wonderful step towards a comprehensive plan of making the routes to the various schools in our neighborhoods safer and more pedestrian and bike-friendly! A huge thank you goes to Steve Bayliss, East Atlanta resident and ANCS parent for pushing this idea along! I like QT but I hope this new development gives them further pause and encourages them to consider other, more appropriate alternatives along the Moreland corridor. School-aged children on foot and on bikes does not mix well with traffic-intense businesses like gas stations.

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