A round Square? Mayor Tumlin wants to turn Marietta Square into one-way street
August 30, 2013 12:21 AM | 4598 views | 15 15 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kee Carlisle, chairman of the city’s Vision 20/20 Committee, says his group will give ‘careful consideration’ to Mayor Steve Tumlin’s idea of turning the Square into a roundabout. <br> Staff/Jeff Stanton
Kee Carlisle, chairman of the city’s Vision 20/20 Committee, says his group will give ‘careful consideration’ to Mayor Steve Tumlin’s idea of turning the Square into a roundabout.
Staff/Jeff Stanton
By Rachel Miller


MARIETTA — Mayor Steve Tumlin wants the roads circling the Square to become one way as part of a streetscaping initiative supported by the head of a citizens committee charged with recommending improvements to downtown.

Motorists would circle the Square on one-way roads until they reach the right connector street.

Tumlin said that is the way he remembers the Square operating when he was a child in the 1950s. In today’s city-planning vernacular, it’s called a “roundabout.”

“I personally think (a roundabout) can work on the Square and give us the old-time feel,” Tumlin said.

Now, two roads run east and west with cars traveling either way, while Atlanta Street runs north and Church Street runs south.

Kee Carlisle, chairman of the city’s Vision 20/20 Committee that was created to improve the look of downtown, said Tumlin included the change to traffic lanes in a list of items for the group to discuss.

Although Carlisle said the concept has merit, he said the rest of the 14-member committee did not have such a positive response.

“I think it is a great idea, but I am one person,” said Carlisle, who owns Sessions Street Folk Art in Marietta.

Carlisle said there could be “careful consideration” by his committee at future meetings about recommending the council move forward with a roundabout.

City Engineer Jim Wilgus said the city closed some traffic lanes three years ago to add brick enhancements to the downtown sidewalks, which caused a similar roundabout effect.

“It may not be convenient, but it flowed great,” Wilgus said.

More trees for


The roundabout idea was not up for discussion by the City Council at its Wednesday meeting, but the council did pick the next four roads that could be lined with trees in the downtown area.

Council members were enthusiastic following the positive response from the public to the landscaping along Church Street that was added this spring.

The council reviewed suggestions by city staff to target Mill Street and Whitlock Avenue west of the Square and Powder Springs Street and Atlanta Street south of the Square.

City Manager Bill Bruton told the council there was enough money in the SPLOST fund to line two more streets downtown. The fund has $734,000 left.

The council supported all four projects outlined at Wednesday’s meeting and asked the staff to provide more detailed design plans with cost estimates at the Sept. 9 meeting.

Councilman Philip Goldstein said he wants to prioritize Mill Street because it is a heavily walked area for visitors parking in front of the Marietta Museum of History and the Gone with the Wind Museum to get to the Square.

Another area in which committee members would like to see more trees is the corner of Whitlock Avenue and West Park Square, where Marietta Pizza Co. is located.

Carlisle said the block on East Park Square in front of county government buildings has a wide sidewalk to accommodate planting trees, but the property is owned by the county.

Other streets are too narrow for the landscaping upgrades because there is not enough room to widen the sidewalks, especially along Atlanta Street south of Anderson Street, in front of the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art.

Councilman Johnny Sinclair said because the landscaping is so popular, the city staff is “eventually going to have to figure it out.”

Carlisle reasoned the landscaping must be popular because he hears many citizens asking when other downtown roads will be done.

“I haven’t heard a negative response,” he said. “(Vision 20/20’s) opinion would be to do them all.”

Future lane closures?

The possibility of upgrading every sidewalk around the Square could unearth some opposition, Carlisle said.

For instance, the North Park Square block in front of Shillings on the Square and Willie Rae’s already has some old trees that can be preserved because “they have some life left,” he said.

But further landscaping to that stretch of road is needed to accommodate outside tables for the restaurants that have tightened the pedestrian walkway, especially for residents walking their dogs and the physically handicapped.

To address the congestion and widen the sidewalk by 10 feet, Carlisle said that road might lose a lane of traffic, which would require a traffic study by the city.

Tumlin believes a more pedestrian-oriented downtown would benefit merchants by having customers who can enjoy the Square from inside and outside the businesses.

Church Street upgrades

Between January and April, the city installed new sidewalks, pedestrian-level lighting and trees along Church Street north of Mill Street.

Carlisle said at least a dozen fast-growing trees will now add an aesthetic value to that block, as well as a practical appeal to shade a hot stretch of sidewalk during the day with more lighting at night.

Sinclair said he predicts an increase in property values on that block as a result of the upgrades.

“I have been a huge fan of what we did on Church Street,” Sinclair said. “I didn’t realize how bleak it was until the trees went in.”

The cost of that first stretch was $220,000 and funded by 2011 SPLOST dollars, according to Wilgus.

The next phase, to start in January 2014, will bury utility lines and install more planters north on Church Street to Polk Street.

The city is restricted to a four-month window for construction downtown, after the winter holiday season and before the spring and summer outdoor festival period.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
take from people
September 05, 2013
The city took from people when it gave space on Church street for the trees. The people were the bicyclers who used Church street. There used to be plenty of room for two lanes of cars, bicycles, then more cars (the parked ones). Now there is zero extra room for bicycles which means bicycles have to use the entire lane if they don't want to run the risk of a car door being thoughtlessly flung open into their face.

While trees are nice, and bicyclers honestly should be fine using a whole lane at Square speeds, the city was yet again totally thoughtless with regard to the bicyclers.

They took the space bicyclers used but could not even be bothered to add some sharrows. SMart money is on zero of the elderly city council or elderly mayor even knowing what sharrows are.

Rather than roundabouting the Square, I say go ahead and silence the train horns and then close the Square to all motor vehicles since only errant drivers would accidentally drive onto the Square anymore, having no idea anymore if a train may be coming. That would also silence all the complaints of "the Square needs more parking" when two free parking decks sit empty. What the Square NEEDS is fewer cars and the people who use cars for everywhere they go (driving even two or three driveways down their own street). How about zero cars on the Square? That's a winning plan to move this place foward. Not even Decatur has done that one. It works great on festival days.

Make every day a festival day and Marietta will garner national attention in, for once, a positive way. People would want to move here. People would ask "Hey when will Meeting Park have a unit for me?"
September 02, 2013
Another example of how clueless city council is. Let's make it even more difficult to get anywhere in or around the square. A rotary, or roundabout, as you call it here, is not going to help this issue, if anything there will be more accidents because most who live here have no idea how a rotary works! Let's make it so inconvenient that no one will want to drive within a mile of this place. But on a brighter note, let's plant some more trees and flowers and install sidewalks with black light posts to make it all look pretty whilst we sit in traffic. Give me a break.
August 31, 2013
Going in "circles" is what our city does best anyway!
phat tony
August 30, 2013
the dirty towing companies that sit and wait for you to park, then tow your car and charge you 120 dollars to get it back is what keeps me from visiting marietta square. until they are not allowed to prey on tourists, i will not be patronizing marietta square!
Mc Andres
September 02, 2013
There is plenty of free parking around the square on Sunday. There is also ample parking in the Cobb County parking decks just off the square and in the Mill Street parking lot. I feel lucky to live in a city where I have a town square with so much history. The festivals , galleries, antique stores and restaurants are wonderful. The merchants and the city and tourism center are constantly working behind the scenes to make the square attractive to visitors and residents. It's hard to make everyone happy all of the time. I just wish people would look at the positive aspects of having a historic town square near them, take in a festival once and awhile, stop by and visit the local merchants and appreciate what we are all lucky to have in our own backyard.
Connie Mack Jr
August 30, 2013
I can hear the outcry now from the rest of the State.. " Those dang Marietta Republicans have once again prove that they are going around in circles proving that no left turns will be permitted no matter what the costs are."
Marietta Resident
August 30, 2013
Parking! Parking! AND MORE PARKING! This is the reason no one visits the square! Trees are nice. Flowers are nice. But no one can see them if they are too annoyed by the lack of parking on the square on any given friday or saturday night!

Most of the time a third or more of the square is closed off from traffic to begin with. Then you add that most people don't know the parking decks are free on weekends and you get constant grid-locked parking with everyone looking for the 1 spot left open. And don't even get me started on the boot devil and his cronies! The square needs more parking period. It would have many more visitors if it wasn't so hard to park!
August 31, 2013
What is wrong with you? There is PLENTY of parking in the PARKING DECK on Cherokee St. across from The Strand -and it's FREE!!!
August 30, 2013
okay...now lets get the sidewalks finished on Whitlock so we can walk to the square
August 30, 2013
A roundabout? "Look kids, Big Ben, Parliament!"

Just Wait
August 30, 2013
Great idea! Let's make it even more inconvenient to go to the square.
Nala Doowtrop
August 30, 2013
Not sure how it would work on the square but I like all of the roundabout's that I've seen.
old mariettan
August 30, 2013
Sounds brilliant - for even more traffic congestion. If you're approaching the square from Roswell Road and want to go out Whitlock Avenue, you have to go all the way around the square? Brilliant!
August 30, 2013
I think the main priority for the Square should be the square itself. The fact that "Old Mariettan" is focusing on this being a thoroughfare is EXACTLY what is wrong with the square. The businesses on the square and the customers walking to these businesses should be the star, not the passerby. I would also love for the City to place some visible signs directing people to the under used parking decks.
September 01, 2013
I think it's a great idea to make the square more pedestrian friendly. Many people on these comments above say its hard to get around the square and no one visits it. That must be being said from some people who never visit the square to see all of the people that do visit the square on a daily basis. If you work or live by the square.... and you are actually up there participating in the community of the Marietta Square, you would see all of the new restaurants and fun festivals to participate in. Sure, you may have to park and walk a block or two... But strolling thru the square is part of the fun of it. You get the experience of stopping and seeing the unique stores, antiques and art galleries. If the idea of a roundabout or one way roads, helps with congestion, why not do it? There will always be negative people out there who will find something wrong with every new idea proposed. The negative opinions sways pop up while the others that feel positive about it do not state their opinion. That's human nature. I say to all of the negative views out there... go up to the Marietta Square one afternoon on a Sunday after church. Park in the Mill Street parking lot or one of the other free parking decks on Sunday and take in a festival or a restaurant and get to know the Square again. You may enjoy it!
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