The goal of this project is to improve the safety and vitality of the Five Points intersection. The proposed improvements will: 1) create a safer intersection based on human-centered design to encourage active transportation (i.e. walking and cycling) and provide visible cues to drivers that the intersection is more than just a thoroughfare; 2) improve the safety associated with turning UGA and ACC transit buses at the intersection; and 3) create small public spaces at the node that provide improved aesthetics, safety, and community connectivity. The proposed pedestrian and safety improvements are represented in the attached sketch, and will include:
(a) the relocation of existing crosswalks to shorten and improve pedestrian walk time; (b) decorative crosswalks to draw more awareness of pedestrian crossing and meet public art requirement; (c) conversion of the existing strain poles to mast arms; (d) improved pedestrian ramps; (e) improved landscaped pedestrian refuges at each corner; (f) evaluation of curb radii at key corners of the intersection (Corner radii (https://bit.ly/2FfGdKN) directly impact vehicle turning speeds and pedestrian crossing distances. Minimizing the size of a corner radius reduces turning speeds, but must be balanced with the requirements of transit buses and emergency vehicles.); (g) updated signal control and timing; and (h) an overall reduction in car/bike/pedestrian conflict points.
Many Athens residents and visitors travel through the Five Points node every day, whether commuting to UGA or downtown, or crossing through town on Milledge Avenue to connect with areas served by Atlanta Highway or Prince Avenue. Many UGA students living off campus along Milledge Avenue or adjacent residential streets drive, walk, or take the bus through Five Points to get to UGA. Many families living in the Barrow Elementary and Clarke Central High School zones walk or cycle to the schools, located just a short distance away from the intersection. Many Athens-Clarke County residents have expressed concern about intersection safety for years. The ACC Department of Transportation and Public Works has also identified this intersection as an area of concern, and has already implemented some measures, such as signal timing adjustments, to improve safety. However, the upcoming SPLOST provides an opportunity to take a more comprehensive look at the intersection and improve safety for all who use it.