More regional funding is going toward planning and design studies to improve several main thoroughfares in Kennesaw.

The Town Center Community Improvement District was awarded two grants, announced May 15, from the Atlanta Regional Commission, for a study of Bells Ferry Road between Chastain Road and Barrett Parkway, and a study of the condition of sidewalks and walkability throughout the CID area.

In addition, the CID previously received $150,000 from the ARC for a study of possible improvements along the Chastain Road corridor, spanning just over 2 miles between Bells Ferry and Big Shanty roads. That study is being led by planning and design firm Gresham Smith.

The $200,000 Bells Ferry Road Corridor Smart Mobility Study, allocated $160,000 from the ARC with a 20% match from the CID, comprises a 1.4-mile stretch, in the center of which is the Noonday Creek Trailhead.

It is funded through the ARC’s Livable Community Initiative and aims to fully understand the operational movements along the roadway, including vehicular travel, pedestrian and bicycle movement and the influence of the Noonday Creek Trailhead.

In total, 10 metropolitan Atlanta projects were awarded LCI funding of $1.4 million.

“The grants are designed to help communities become more vibrant, walkable places that offer increased mobility options, encourage healthy lifestyles, and provide improved access to jobs and services,” the ARC said. “Upon completion of the studies, communities will be eligible to apply for federal transportation funding for projects such as sidewalks, multi-use trails, and smart corridor improvements that help implement their plans.”

Bells Ferry Road is a boundary road for the district and serves consistent vehicular travel daily, the CID said.

“(The study) could also include the impact of traffic from the managed lanes and Big Shanty Road on the corridor and retail, residential and elementary school movements,” the CID said. “In addition, the study will evaluate what recommendations may align with future county improvements including a bridge renovation and regional trail extension.”

The study will be advertised for bid this summer with expectations for award in early fall, the CID said.

“We are proud of our continued partnership with the ARC to study and improve the infrastructure and quality of life for the Town Center community,” said CID Executive Director Tracy Rathbone Styf.

Sidewalks

In regards to the sidewalks study, the ARC announced it was giving critical planning and technical support to the Town Center CID for this project, but did not disclose a specific grant amount.

It is helping in this way 10 metropolitan Atlanta communities through its Community Development Assistance Program.

“This program will help communities across the region provide improved access to housing options, job opportunities, and walkable, creative public spaces,” said Sam Shenbaga, manager of the ARC’s community development group.

In Kennesaw, the presence and condition of sidewalks throughout the CID area will be analyzed and then recommendations made for potential improvements.

The Gateway Marietta CID is another organization getting help in this way by the ARC for a study into pedestrian safety improvements at an underpass connecting the CID’s commercial district to a nearby residential neighborhood.

Chastain corridor

Gresham Smith planners are delving into the community’s desires for an improved Chastain Road corridor.

The CID and partner organization Town Center Community Alliance recently dedicated their latest “lunch and learn” webinar event to this project, through which two Gresham Smith staff explained potential options for change and sought public opinion.

Erin Hathaway, a landscape architect and project manager, and Erin Thoresen, a senior transportation planner, said the focus of the study is on creating vibrant walkable places, promoting and increasing mobility options, access to jobs and services, and in general helping turn the Chastain Road corridor into an environment people like.

“The challenge to us as a consultant team is really to apply all of these different facets, how can we improve safety, walkability, multimodal mobility,” Thoresen said. “We’re looking at concepts for streetscape design and elements of design guidelines, as well as incorporating ideas into wayfinding and signage going forward.”

Planners will also consider the existing supply and demand for retail, commercial, office and housing options, in close proximity to Kennesaw State University in particular, and look at redevelopment opportunities.

“I think one of the unique things that we’ll start to talk about more are those kind of spaces in between the existing developments and not necessarily thinking about an urban street with on-street parking but some of these opportunities in the public rights-of-way along the roadway and maybe those public-private partnerships that even look at some of the existing developments and opportunities that fit within those,” Thoresen said.

Hathaway said there are some issues with existing sidewalks and other connections through the corridor that, if fixed and enhanced, should entice more users and allow people to more easily move between different parts of the community.

“We recognize that public-private partnership is really going to have to come together to create a community supported place,” Hathaway said. “Right now everything feels very disconnected.”

Public engagement for the project has begun and continues online, with the study expected to be finalized by the end of the year.

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