Harlem waits on DOT approval to add turning lanes to downtown area


With growth comes an uptick in traffic, and Harlem is starting to feel the impact.

City Council submitted plans to the DOT to make more through traffic, and less bumper-to-bumper.

Louisville St. and Milledgeville Rd. these are the only traffic lights in Harlem and the council is not looking to add more lights right now but they are looking to help with the traffic flow.

Harlem’s Mayor, Roxanne Whitaker, says, “we have two proposals to the DOT that they have preliminarily approved. One, is to have a turn lane north and south, to help with traffic issues there and also to put up pedestrian flashers when people want to cross the street.”

Resident of Harlem, Ashley Sketoe, says, “I really like it because we like going to the coffee shops and ice cream shops, so it would make it easier to walk there instead of drive.”

She frequents local businesses, such as Java House, right in the heart of the Historic District and a block from the traffic light.

Owner of Harlem Java House, Deborah Stickney, says, “with the amount of traffic and the growth in the area. I mean, anything they can slow traffic through the downtown area would be great. We’ve had a few customers and a couple instances of people stating that they’ve almost gotten hit even just trying to walk across our crosswalks, which people don’t pay attention to when they’re flying through town.”

However, slowing down traffic isn’t what the mayor had in mind. She says the less stopping, the more cars, and in turn more publicity for businesses.

“People are avoiding downtown to avoid the traffic light. So, if this is the quickest way to their job, they’re going to come this way,” says Whitaker.

The Department of Public Safety and Harlem Baptist Church is going to have parts of their land backed up, but the mayor says it’s not much.

“We’ll put a center lane and we will use this white chalked off area and part of the sidewalk. We’ll move the sidewalk back some. That’s all we’re going to do. We know this side has been approved. We’re not sure about that side,” says Whitaker.

Whitaker says she talked to the church and they are okay with losing four parking spots to the turning lane.

Council is just waiting on the final approval from the DOT and construction will start immediately.

Another way the council is trying to help out with traffic flow is adding more speed humps in neighborhoods.

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