by: Richard Elliot Updated:
Channel 2 Action News has learned the Georgia Department of Transportation plans to spend $12 million to improve pedestrian safety along busy Buford Highway in DeKalb County.
"Buford Highway is such a heavily traveled pedestrian corridor," said Georgia DOT spokesman Mark McKinnon. "There are just so many pedestrians and a lot of your intersections are kind of spread out, so it makes it difficult for pedestrians to get across the roadway without walking a long distance."
One traffic advocacy group said as many as 20 pedestrians have died along Buford Highway since 2000. Many groups have asked for pedestrian safety improvements for years. McKinnon said the biggest obstacle has been the money.
"It's very expensive," said McKinnon. "We realize that safety is much more important than money, however, the money has to be there."
The DOT plans to use the money to build six more pedestrian-only, traffic-light controlled crosswalks. It also plans to improve sidewalks and intersections. But McKinnon concedes the project could take up to three years to complete because it will involve locating and moving underground utilities.
George Milian walks up and down Buford Highway several times a day. He said he always uses the crosswalks, but it seems many people who do not. He wishes the improvements included a slower speed limit and more police enforcement but believes the plan will help save lives.
"That would help a lot to prevent those accidents that are often happening nowadays," said Milian.