The once-largely industrial Huff Road corridor in northwest Atlanta is rapidly changing into a bustling neighborhood with a mix of residential, retail, commercial and industrial uses.
Now, the Upper Westside Community Improvement District (CID) is looking to shape the next phase of the corridor’s evolution. The CID has received a $200,000 grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) program to assess possible multimodal transportation and green infrastructure improvements.
When the study is completed, the Upper Westside CID will become eligible for additional federal funding to bring the community’s vision to fruition.
Upper Westside CID Program Director Adeline Collot says the project will begin with a survey of Huff Road’s topography and existing utilities. The road’s often steep terrain presents stormwater issues that need to be carefully considered.
“When you start a project like this, you start by figuring out what you have,” Collot explains. “We have to establish how much public right of way there is, where utility poles, manholes and the AT&T boxes are, etc. We have to figure out if and where there’s enough space to accommodate things like turn lanes, sidewalks or bike lanes.”
Improving Mobility for Drivers, Cyclists and Pedestrians
The project aims to improve connectivity in the area for drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit riders. Extensive freight railroad infrastructure limits roadway connections, and the few roads that cross the tracks are designed primarily for freight traffic.
Any multimodal improvements to Huff Road would align with a “complete street” project planned on Howell Mill Road, at the eastern end of Huff.
Lauren Blaszyk, ARC’s LCI Program Manager, says improving mobility on Huff Road and the entire Upper Westside is a priority.
“When you consider what makes a place livable, you have to consider the nexus between land-use and transportation,” says Blaszyk. “Huff Road now includes an interesting mix of uses, but it can be challenging to move through the area. We’re excited to help the Upper Westside CID plan for a future Huff Road that is more accommodating for all types of users— pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.”
Managing Stormwater with ‘Green’ Infrastructure
Huff Road currently lacks any stormwater mitigation features. All runoff flows downhill into a local creek, sometimes causing flooding.
The CID says any design they put forward will consider the implementation of ‘green’ infrastructure like permeable pavement and bioswales, which can absorb stormwater and mitigate flooding.
Collot says the Upper Westside CID plans to develop two Huff Road concepts for the community to consider.
“We’re trying to be creative with how we gather input,” Collot says. “We want the community to engage this project in a participatory way so we can understand what the community values.”
Collot adds that community engagement is more than listening though. It’s also about helping the community understand the process and setting expectations.
“We want people in the community to have a better understanding of what’s possible and what we can afford,” she says. “This is the start of a multi-year project on a road for which there is no ‘silver bullet’ solution. If the community chooses a plan that we can’t do all at once, then we’ll start chipping away at it. It’s a long-term project and success will come over time.”
What’s Next ATL, produced by the Atlanta Regional Commission, is a community resource that explores how metro Atlanta is growing and changing, and how the region is addressing its most pressing challenges.