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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Milton unveils early look at Highway 9 guidelines

By Patrick Fox
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Milton wants to spruce up one of its busiest commercial districts, but among the challenges is a name for the three-mile stretch.

"Highway 9″ just doesn't have the right ring.
During a 40-minute discussion Monday at City Hall, representatives from a citizens' committee listed a number of design recommendations for the corridor, all focused on establishing guidelines to suit the city's rural character.

The report painted a picture of a finely tuned commercial center, easy on the eye and feet.
City Council members found themselves calling the stretch "New Milton Parkway," a name they agreed was more fitting.

The plan, yet to be finalized, recommends building placement near the streets, with parking either on the side or in back. It also promotes inter-parcel access between lots, so customers can drive from one location to another without re-entering the street.

Consultant Matt Cherry of Atlanta's Urban Collage said that in order for the city to get maximum bang for its buck, the speed limit along Highway 9 should be lowered from 45 to 35 miles per hour. Because it is a state route, he said, the DOT places severe restrictions on landscaping based on posted speeds.

For example, trees, street lamps and other street furniture cannot be placed within 14 feet from routes with posted speeds of 45 miles per hour, Cherry said. The distance decreases to seven feet for routes with 35 miles per hour speed limits.

But Public Works Director Carter Lucas said altering speed limits along state routes can be complicated, requiring traffic and engineering studies.

Robyn MacDonald, with the Milton planning department, said the guidelines should not only enhance the character the city has tried to preserve, but also promote pedestrian traffic along the corridor. She said the 14-member committee wanted some uniformity in the landscaping without making it monotonous.

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