Residents: Not enough crosswalks, some say walkability of $4M Whitlock project wasn’t achieved
by Hilary Butschek
August 08, 2014 04:00 AM | 3750 views | 4 4 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Beth King, left, and Barbara Gentile, who both live on Whitlock Avenue in Marietta, examine plans affecting their property Wednesday night at Marietta City Hall. Staff/Hilary Butschek
Beth King, left, and Barbara Gentile, who both live on Whitlock Avenue in Marietta, examine plans affecting their property Wednesday night at Marietta City Hall. Staff/Hilary Butschek
MARIETTA — Some residents say plans for a $4 million sidewalk project on Whitlock Avenue don’t make it very safe for pedestrians.

Whitlock Avenue residents who attended a public meeting about the project this week said the main goal of the project — to make Marietta more walkable — wasn’t fully achieved.

About 50 Whitlock Avenue residents came to a meeting that felt more like a neighborhood social than a public hearing.

Residents greeted each other and exchanged opinions about the plans to install sidewalks.

Scott Loughrey, who lives off Whitlock and owns Office Furniture Concierge in Marietta, didn’t approve of the 1-mile portion of the project from Kirkpatrick Drive to the Square because it doesn’t include any pedestrian walkways to cross the street.

“It’s still going to be like the Berlin Wall to cross that street,” Loughrey said. “I’m so mad I could spit. Why even do the project?”

The project, which will be funded by the $68 million redevelopment bond issuance that passed last October, will add a five-foot sidewalk to both sides of Whitlock Avenue on the 1.5-mile stretch from Polk Street Extension, which is next to a Kroger, to Oakmont Drive, which leads to Marietta Middle School. The sides of the road will also be decorated with landscaping and street lights as well as decorative signs labeling each intersection.

The plans, which were designed by Netherlands-based Arcadis, include four pedestrian walkways to cross the street in the commercial area between Polk Street Extension and Oakmont Drive.

“From Kirkpatrick (Drive) to the Square there is not a single crossing,” Loughrey said.

Another resident agreed with Loughrey. Barbara Gentile, a retiree who has lived on Whitlock for one year, said she thought the purpose of the project was to make it easier for pedestrians to travel through the area because they have to dodge traffic to cross the street.

“I walk and run every day, and it’s very dangerous with no crosswalks,” Gentile said.

Councilman Johnny Walker, who attended Wednesday’s City Hall meeting, said he agrees with residents and plans to ask city employees to add more crosswalks.

“I’m going to have to check into it. Since that portion of Whitlock is a state highway, that changes things,” Walker said. “Everything is going to have to go through GDOT (Georgia Department of Transportation).”

Beth Sessoms, the city’s economic development manager, said the city advises adding crosswalks is unwise.

“It’s just such a dangerous area that if we put in crosswalks, people would think it’s safe to cross, but it might not be,” Sessoms said.

Crosswalks would create a false sense of security for residents, Sessoms said.

Because Whitlock is so busy, she said, cars might not see pedestrians waiting on the sidewalks. If a person started to walk across the road, she said cars might not be able to stop in time.

Walker said he would suggest adding flashing lights to the crosswalks to make them more noticeable to drivers.

Overall positive response

Other residents praised the plans.

“I am thrilled to death about the plans. I love walking, and now people don’t have to be scared of the cars,” said Jane Sherlock, a retiree who has lived on Whitlock for 12 years.

Most residents at the meeting said they approved of the plans.

“The town has a vibrancy, and this is just going to add to that,” said retiree Peter Varljen.

Walker said he was pleased with the “incredible” turnout Wednesday.

“Everyone I met with tonight, when I showed them exactly what was going to happen with their land, they were pleased,” Walker said.

One resident Walker talked to, Margaret Kirkland, said she came to the meeting for selfish reasons but walked away pleased.

“I really came to see if my Magnolia tree would be saved and I wouldn’t be chained to it when they start construction,” said Kirkland, a retiree and 16-year resident of Whitlock. “If they take that tree they might as well take my house.”

Comments-icon Post a Comment
what a mow, ron
August 14, 2014
Sessoms says "no crosswalks" because maybe a car could not stop? Well by gum let's get rid off all the roads where people turn on and off Whitlock through there too. Maybe people could not stop for those either.

Let's get rid of all the crosswalks around the Square that Sessoms uses. Lost folks who have already been ticketed drive around there looking for traffic court. They drive around the Square and might not stop! They are previously ticketed drivers, so at a 95% conviction rate, you KNOW at least 95% of them don't pay attention to their driving!

In real places, crosswalks abound at mid-block on busy roads. There is a button. To cross, you press it. It turns a traffic signal, just like the signals at intersections, red. Wow! The cars stop. You cross the street. Golly.

If Sessoms is so concerned about safety, why would she suggest that we remove the bubble-outs where the never ending plague of drivers to and from West Cobb and Paulding drive around each other on the right instead of waiting for a driver in front of them to turn left?

If we remove the right side passing bubble outs, the never ending plague of cars would actually get breaks in it when somebody makes a left turn, and then those of use who live in the city and pay Sessoms' salary might be able to cross the road since the never ending plague of cars would actually have a gap in it.

If Sessoms thought processes really cannot go bigger than a cat sized paper bag, maybe she needs to go. Perhaps, instead, she is no dummy, maybe she just lives out Whitlock and is among those who cannot be bothered to be delayed for two seconds by the people whose faces they drive over every morning and afternoon.

The only motivation for her ridiculous comments about sidewalks that could make any kind of sense at all would be if she lives out Whitlock and has her own self interest as a driving commuter in mind. If she does live out Whitlock, wow, what a clear conflict of interest her statements would be!

And the ironically named Johnny WALKER says "I will look into that but it's a state highway," so what I hear him saying is that he plans to claim the state said "No" while being able to sound like he will be an advocate for crosswalks. We all know that game. We ain't dummies here in the city.

Man oh man. Put somebody in a box (on wheels) for 20 years and they lose any abililty to think outside it.

Most addicts think they can stop whenever they want, but Sessoms is so far gone that she says they can't stop!

What are all the interventionists doing these

days since A&E retired Intervention? The City of Marietta has a serious dependency problem and needs an intervention!

Dear Sessoms, if cars really cannot stop, you get rid of the cars. Did you ever think about finishing the Marietta Loop so it has a west half that loops AROUND Marietta intsead of bisecting the city and dumping a plague of cars into our neighborhoods on Whitlock?

The biggest boost for our economy would be if we could shed the reputation we have for being one big traffic jam. Get rid of the through traffic. Send it AROUND!

We all know how to get around in our city, bypassing all the thru-traffic, but when somebody visits the city to evaluate it for relocation or opening a business here, they get stuck in all the traffic because the computer told them to go that way. Due to the traffic, they run far, far away (driving, not running, of course) believing it takes an hour to drive 2 miles in the CIty of Marietta no matter the time of day!


but if just keep Whitlock the same as its been but with pretty sidewalks nobody will use due to the smelly fumes from the never ending plague of cars, lets just put up new road signs for Whitlock, minus the W for Walking, replacing it with an S for Safety, or Sessoms, take your pick, but the result is the same either way.
Off Whitlock
August 09, 2014
Adding crosswalks to that stretch of Whitlock will absolutely complicate the design, but it can be done if it's deemed a priority. I would be interested to know the incident rate at the crosswalk further down where Whitlock/Dallas Hwy disects the Kennesaw Mtn Battlefield trails. That crosswalk is not located at a stoplight and the traffic is traveling at a higher rate of speed. If that crosswalk exists without significant issues, that's proof enough that new crosswalks can be added and made safe.
Group Think
August 08, 2014
Sessoms has safety in mind. Guess what, right now there is ZERO safety, because a pedestrian will cross Whitlock at ANY POINT they choose because there are no crosswalks to serve as visual clues to "cross here".

Her logic is badly flawed and endangers Whitlock residents.
whitlock resident
August 09, 2014
Oh please, use your brain and not emotion. Mrs. Sessoms makes perfect sense. Also come take a look at how curved Whitlock is in the residential portion- then you'd understand.
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