1. What is a corridor study / plan?
A corridor study or plan is an in-depth analysis of a thoroughfare. It blends technical research with the intuition of stakeholders and the community. The Connect Athens process aims to identify the central challenges and opportunities along and surrounding the Atlanta Highway and Lexington Road corridors to mitigate negative trends and take advantage of opportunities. These plans analyze the inside-the-right-of-way issues like congestion, mode choice, etc., and outside-the-right-of-way with land uses, property maintenance, and other considerations. The goal of these plans is to improve both the form and function of the corridors by establishing a unique vision that is fortified with achievable short-term and long-term recommendations.
2. What do you mean by a “corridor”?
A “corridor” refers to both the street, the right-of-way (including sidewalks, utilities, etc.), and the fronting parcels along Atlanta Highway and Lexington Road. Taken together, these areas define the planning boundary for each corridor.
3. Is this just about the street, or is there a larger study area?
Connect Athens is about more than just the street. Within the planning boundary the Team will perform an in-depth analysis of land use and transportation conditions and trends. The corridors however, have broader influence area surrounding them. The Team will also identify a broader “Influence Area” (defined generally as a quarter-mile area surrounding the corridors) to better understand traffic impacts and neighborhood issues.
4. Why are these two corridors being studied?
Atlanta Highway and Lexington Road are significant gateways into Athens and they connect people with jobs, neighborhoods, and entertainment. But they are also neighborhoods in their own right with a variety of places along them. This plan will explore opportunities to improve the form and function of the corridor to add lasting value to the entire community.
5. Why does Athens need these plans?
This plan seeks to improve the efficiency of the corridors while also considering the quality of places along them. The corridor study will create opportunities for better commercial and residential spaces bordering these community gateways.
6. How will this benefit this community?
Whether you live on one of the corridors, own a business or simply travel them everyday, it should be clear just how vital these connections are to Athens. Developing a collective vision for the corridors based on the feedback of the community can be a significant driver of prosperity. This vision will create better, more diverse places while continuing to improve mobility within the community.
7. What challenges will these plans address?
Every community is different, so the specific challenges that will be addressed will begin to take shape through an interpretive planning process. The general direction of what the plan seeks to improve will be set through stakeholder engagement and public involvement. Technical research will uncover additional challenges and opportunities and explore responses provided by the public. Mobility, congestion, and land use are likely topics to be explored during this process.
8. Who is leading the planning process?
Each corridor’s planning process is being led by a 12-member Steering Committee made up of stakeholders and community representatives. These groups will help guide the public process and craft the plan’s recommendations. A Core Committee was developed in order to oversee the connected components of the process and ensure efficiency. A Planning Team, led by Kimley Horn and assisted by Planning NEXT and Ninigret Partners, will facilitate the process and conduct technical analysis. Each planning process is unique, but the Team’s intent is to maximize efficiencies of the parallel processes.
9. Is there a role for the community to get involved?
Yes! There are multiple opportunities to get involved and share ideas with the Planning Team. The first event, which will seek to understand central issues and opportunities, will take place in late August. If you can’t make the first meeting, that’s okay! Anybody that cares about the future of the community will be able to participate and contribute their ideas and insight at various public meetings to follow and through web-based tools.
10. When are these public participation opportunities?
The first opportunity to get involved will be in late August at the Visioning Workshop. There will be additional public events throughout 2018/2019 and a series of online activities as well.
11. What will happen at the community events?
Participants will work together in small groups to identify areas of strength and areas of opportunity within the community. The meeting will be carefully facilitated to ensure participants are comfortable sharing ideas, with every piece of input being captured. The event will also include a brief presentation overview of the planning process and timeline.
12. Do I have to be an expert to contribute ideas?
You are already an expert if you live or work in Athens-Clarke County. Who knows the community better than someone who lives or works here?
13. What is the timeline for completing the plan?
The planning process was initiated in May of 2018 and will last approximately one year. The process will include multiple engagement opportunities that will be publicized far in advance.
14. Where can I learn more?
Information about this exciting process will continue to be added to this website and in news posts.
15. How does this relate to the Comprehensive Plan?
The County recently completed is 2018 Comprehensive Plan, a high-level policy statement mandated by the state every ten years that’s designed to align future actions of the community. Conclusions and recommendations from the corridor study will integrate ideas and information from the Comprehensive Plan, but Connect Athens will provide more granular detail, focused on the two corridors.
16. How does this relate to Envision Athens?
The 2018 Comprehensive plan incorporated ideas from two separate processes, the Comprehensive Plan and Envision Athens. Envision Athens complimented the Comprehensive Plan by highlighting both successes and deficiencies across the community and sought to better align the various interests of the Athens and establish a vision for growth. This process was heavily driven by community involvement which is reflected in the final 103 action proposals that incorporated a large variety of input. Similar to Envision, Connect Athens will be fully open to the public with numerous opportunities to provide input.