Plans to narrow and beautify the stretch of Laney-Walker Boulevard that runs through Georgia Health Sciences University will be presented at a meeting tonight.
An open house will be held from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History, 1116 Phillips St.
The stretch would be narrowed from four lanes to two, roadside parking would be eliminated, and 5-foot-wide bike lanes would be installed on each side, according to an e-mail from project manager Bruce G. Anderson Jr.
The road would have two slight bends or “jogs” in that stretch, which “visually slows traffic down and keeps it at the 25 mph limit much easier,” said Phil Howard, GHSU’s vice president for facility services.
Crosswalks would be slightly raised to make them more prominent, and some high shrubs along the road would be eliminated to improve visibility for drivers, he said.
GHSU President Ricardo Azziz sparked protests from the community when he broached closing the stretch to create a more unified, safer campus. About 8,500 pedestrians cross that two-block stretch every day, and a previous Augusta Chronicle analysis of accident data found eight people hit by vehicles in that area since 1995.
That concern about safety had led university officials to pursue the project and get it in the state queue before Azziz arrived, Howard said.
That’s why this project is different, he said.
“It’s not a closure,” Howard said. “It is an enhancement to the street, and it is an improvement to pedestrian safety by clearing up the visibility along the road.”
It should fit in nicely with other plans to improve the adjacent 15th Street corridor, he said.
“We’re pretty excited about that happening as well,” Howard said. “We’re hopeful that this will start a trend in the area.”
The Georgia Department of Transportation is providing an enhancement grant to go with university funding.