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Lilburn CID Aims for Better Business Access Along Highway 29

The Lilburn CID recently awarded a contract to study ways for improved traffic patterns that affect businesses on U.S. Highway 29.

The Lilburn CID recently awarded an $87,000 contract to a Norcross-based firm in hopes of bettering the connectivity between businesses along U.S. Highway 29 and increasing the flow of traffic.

Moreland Altobelli Associates, Inc., a Norcross firm specializing in engineering, will complete the "Access Management Plan" by June 2013, according to Lilburn CID officials. Gwinnett County SPLOST, or Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, is paying for the cost of the study.

The study area extends down U.S. Highway 29, or Lawrenceville Highway, from Rockbridge Road to Ronald Reagan Parkway, which includes areas annexed by the city of Lilburn in 2011. The length of the area to be studied is approximately 4.3 miles.

Doing the study is "showing the market place that the CID is taking the initiative to create an environment for businesses to come and have easy access to their businesses," said Gerald McDowell, executive director of the Lilburn CID.

-- What do you think of the ability to access businesses along U.S. Highway 29? Is it a problem, or not? Let us know in the comment section. --

Specifically, the Norcross firm will provide a plan for better access to businesses along the route. This could include: traffic engineering methods that enhance the movement of people and goods, current site development improvements that will help with traffic, and coordination between business owners and city government.

Ever since the median went in on U.S. Highway 29, McDowell said he's heard complaints about it. He added that the Lilburn CID tried to , "but it didn't solve the problem of access to businesses off the corridor."

The study should give solutions to some of the challenges property owners and motorists are seeing, he said. One of those problems also includes making the area attractive to its own residents.

"Right now, we hear from businesses that the 50,000 people who live in 30047 go elsewhere to shop and to eat," McDowell said. "We need to hear from them why that is. Why do they go somewhere else? Why are they not patronizing the businesses along Highway 29?"

That's why the Lilburn CID believes it will be critically important for the public to participate in upcoming stakeholder meetings about the "Access Management Plan."

The Lilburn CID will release those dates. Contact them for more information at 678-380-1000.

-- Specific objectives of the plan are:

  • Maintain highway capacity of U.S. Highway 29
  • Improve traffic safety
  • Improve vehicular access to parcels and businesses
  • Maintain or improve efficient traffic flow
  • Improve pedestrian and bicycle connectivity
  • Promote long-term economic development of the corridor

-- Specific local issues identified in the request for proposals (RFP) within the corridor include:

  • Businesses have closed as a result of the median on U.S. Highway 29, which makes it challenging for motorists to access certain properties
  • There is a lack of U-turn ability in some spots; the Lilburn CID believes more of these would increase traffic to businesses.
  • Traffic congestion because of Berkmar High School; the Lilburn CID believes improved access to and from the school will help this.
  • There are traffic concerns of the future (possible) development of the Big League Dreams sport park, which could impact businesses near the intersection of U.S. Highway 29 and Indian Trail-Lilburn Road.

See other Patch stories involving the Lilburn CID:

Rethinknow August 22, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Do you really need to spend $87,000 to find out why? Give the average person who is not narrow minded and not afraid of people of different religions, skin color, ethnicities an hour, you buy the coffee and you will have your answer, First and foremost dump the people who have been steering the community for 20 years. If they couldn’t figure out that strip malls have “shelf life” and take action to renew and rebuild then they don’t belong in the groups that are making the decisions today.
Leonard Stimley; Ph.D. August 22, 2012 at 03:12 PM
The problem is the medians that were put in. There is no easy way to access businesses on the opposite side of the road. Examples: Getting to Kroger's from the south or to Beaver Crossing Animal Hospital from the north. Rather than to improve things, the medians have made things worse. Also, many of the busineses that did go out of business recently, Starbucks, Shell, Drycleaner as examples, did so during the construction. The medians have made the life of this Lilburn resident a lot more complicated and a lot less enjoyable. It is just too difficult to get across the street to a business that I might otherwise have patronized. It's easier to just keep "going with the flow" and head right out of town
Gerald McDowell August 22, 2012 at 03:35 PM
The Study and cost is necessary because it requires a professional opinion to request and use funds from a City, County, State and/or Federal government. Alternatives have to be identified and planned in order to create better access throughout the corridor then to implement any plan will require funding from one or more municipalities. The retail, shops, restaurants, stores, etc are all done privately. We are working to put the necessary infrastructure in place and to create a vision to encourage revitalization, redevelopment and even new development. Thanks for your comments.
Gerald McDowell August 22, 2012 at 03:38 PM
The median was put in to address traffic flow. That is one of the main reason for the Access Management Study and that is to identify alternatives to create better access throughout the corridor. And this Study will take vehicular as well as pedestrian traffic (walking, biking, etc) into consideration. Thanks for your comments.
Estrella Velazquez August 22, 2012 at 06:24 PM
I'm glad that Lilburn CID is putting some money into research of this kind. I'm also glad it's less than $100,000. Research and analysis is important in order to come up with a cohesive and feasible plan. I look forward to seeing the results of this study as well as the proposals for improvement. A word on the medians: initially I was peeved at their installation. I thought that they would be overly restrictive to traffic flow and that there would be massive issues. Now, after having them in place for a while I have begun to see the wisdom. It's nice to not have to worry about oncoming traffic in the suicide lane if I want to turn into a business on the other side of the road. I just travel to the next U-turn location and turn there. It's really not that hard. Yeah, it's harder to change direction at the spur of the moment and jump into the suicide lane to do a U-turn, but often that isn't the safest situation. It does promote jaywalking, but the people who do that would have done it anyway. This way at least they are out of the way of possible traffic.
Gerald McDowell August 22, 2012 at 06:39 PM
The Lilburn CID started in 2010 and our aim is to partner with the City as well as the County. This allows all of us to pool our resources in order to develop a better quality of life - this takes time as well as planning. It is what it is and we are working to build upon that in a positive manner. Thanks for your comments.
John Cook August 22, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Construction took way too long. It seemed that there were months when I saw no progress. Turning into Starbucks was a roller-coaster ride because the entrance was roughly graded gravel. Folks got tired of it and started doing business elsewhere. Part of the problem regarding construction on 29 relates to red tape with the Federal and State DOT. They need to have as a primary objective to get the job completed in the shortest amount of time. This was not a priority with the changes on 29.
Lilburn Resident August 22, 2012 at 08:26 PM
What is CID? I am aware that consulting firms will interview all businesses and will feed back to you what you have never listened to before. They will also buffer exactly what you wish to hear. 89K is a lot of money to spend, more than 10% of the money allocated. Who in the Lilburn political system is connected to this consulting firm? Who will profit? Another waste of taxpayer money.
Lilburn Resident August 22, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Most everyone can figure out what is wrong. One problem has been the non-shared parking facilities. The medians are great. Some lanes are very confusing such as the lanes between RR Parkway and Lester Road. A visitor to the area would just continue on rather than figure out the lanes, going on to Lawrenceville to the East and Tucker to the West. The U-turns are dangerous and obstruct traffic flows. If there was a lane in each greedy business parking area from Pleasant Hill to Beaver Ruin, more people would access several places on that side of the street. If crime was not so rampant in Lilburn and Gwinnett, maybe walkways over or under the 29 could be used, shared parking. The Beverage store on 29 upgraded their location but left an eyesore. If you wished to get an auto part, then a package of beverages, then stop at Arby's to eat, no one wishes to dart in and out of traffic to get from place to place since each business has purposely created a barrier between each other over the many years. I usually like to plan my stops, such as eating a meal at Messina's, stopping at Starbucks, and then going to Kogers and on to Walgreen's, but too many obstructions does not allow this to happen, therefore I go further where I can connect my tasks logically. The concept used for the Walmart-Home Depot locations is a much better idea, even they could use more connectivity if they had a shared concept. I can see more taxpayer waste coming down the 29 corridor.
Gerald McDowell August 22, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Please refer to our website for more information - www.LilburnCID.com - a Community Improvement District is a group of Commercial Property Owners who decided to take matters in their own hands - they voluntarily pay an additional property tax to be used for projects or seed money to secure additional funding pay for projects that go towards infrastructure improvements, roads, water and sewer, safety, landscape, streetscape, etc in order to encourage revitalization, redevelopment and even new development. Historically , a CID at least gets a 10 to 1 return on every dollar invested (usually a lot better) AND attract capital as well as projects that otherwise would not have come to the area. A formal bid process is used by a CID for projects (or a Study). Only Commercial Property owners can serve on a CID board and no outside elected official or non-property directs the activities of a CID. For the most recent projects as many as 13 firms submitted proposals which included an interview as well as a guided scoring method to select a firm. CIDs have been in the metro Atlanta area for almost 25 years (4 in Gwinnett) and they have an excellent track record with the investments they make. Thanks for your comments.
Gerald McDowell August 22, 2012 at 10:33 PM
Most of the time when a CID does a Study it includes public meetings to allow input and feedback from the general public. Please be on the lookout for those opportunities (we will have several over the next couple of months). A lot of times it is necessary to work with local (City) and County government and in some cases State and Federal government. When that happens we have to present more than a "good idea" in order to secure funding, get permits, and to have our requests considered, evaluated, and approved. You even have to document the impact a project may have on traffic patterns, water flow, the environment, other projects, residential and commercial properties - how to maintain what is done, how long it will last before repairs or upgrade is needed - even the feasibility - there are private and public considerations (phone and power lines, water and sewer, right of way, etc) - and much more. All of this and so much more has to be documented by professionals who are trained as planners, designers, engineers, etc. Thanks for your comments.
John Cook August 23, 2012 at 12:38 AM
A CID is a group of Republican businessmen who behave much in the fashion of welfare queens with their hands out to the Federal and State governments. They tax themselves in order to get seed money, then leverage this seed money into a return on investment of ten to 40 times by applying for every grant that they can dream up. (That's a 1000% to 4000% Return on Investment. . . ! They developed a clever way to exploit the rules and work the system, eh?) Their philosophy is that grant money is free money that no one has to pay for. Actually, the money that they get is added to the Federal deficit. The Central Bank of the Federal Reserve announced earlier this year that they will monetize part of the Federal debt over the next 20 years, resulting in a 30% devaluation of the U.S. Dollar. This is equivalent to a tax of 30% on all accumulated wealth, including your house, retirement account, pension, savings, etc. Yet no one is alarmed. Why not? Obama said it is good to spread the wealth. Folks were alarmed. Now he is doing it and no one seems to notice. The 30% devaluation of the Dollar is in addition to normal inflation. By making your retirement plan and savings worthless, you will be on par with those who don't work, save, and invest. Now that you know about the problem, go watch some TV and hope the problem will go away.
Ben August 23, 2012 at 08:36 AM
Lilburn is the City known for Sidewalks, nobody uses them, go between the strip between Rockbridge Rd, to Ronald Reagin Parkway, Full of SIdewalks, that nobody uses. As far a traffic flow, take up the Side Walks add another lane, Traffic would run smoother. As Far as Business, Get some Better Restaurants, Applebee's, O'Charles, Chile's, Lilburn does not have a Dairy Queen, Nothing but Car Repair places, Car Part places, Buy here, pay here Car dealers, Etc. Stop the Studies, Quit this waste of money, do something, to get Lilburn, back on where other cities are, Look at the AVENUE'S, on 124 go for something like that, No Trails, No More Sidewalks, No Studies, Just Common Sense, Keep that money in Lilburn, don't send it to Norcross
Gerald McDowell August 23, 2012 at 11:00 AM
There is a systematic approach & a scoring system used to determine where to put sidewalks - so when a sidewalk is put in, it was based on this method. The City, County and State have ordinances, codes and other guidelines to follow that help determine land use. The infrastructure as well as roads, water and sewer all have to be taken into consideration. That's the purpose of our Study. It would be like building a house - there are industry standards for the size of doors, windows, ceilings, etc. - if you build without following it would not be wise. We can not guess or only use "common sense" as the practice for development. Good and better development follow scientific methods and industry standards. What we have in the community is what it is - for example, the thought may be that a new road will help, but in order to put in a new road it may be necessary to move utilities, water and sewer (or the manner to have that infrastructure in place), so a new road estimate of say $1,000,000 may require $5,000,000 because of all the other work that has to be done. And it would be better to know this before you started the project (which requires planning and time). It is our desire to have more choices in greater Lilburn, but again it is not as simple as calling a specific company and asking them to locate here - they need and want market data and evidence that the leaders and community have prepared for their business to be successful. Thanks for your comments.
RL August 23, 2012 at 11:54 AM
John Cook - well said except I'm sure a few of the business folks are democrat, as well. But you nailed it - everyone has their hand out. There are just different levels of gimme out there. Most folks will read your comments, shrug their shoulders and move on. They do not understand, nor do they want to understand. The sound you hear is the coming fiscal crisis like one we have never seen. But cheer up, college football is about to start!
NC Henry August 24, 2012 at 01:13 PM
I believe it would have been a better show of common sense to consider this BEFORE adding the median, otherwise known as do it right the first time.
Joy L. Woodson August 24, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Thank you everyone for your input.
IRSG August 29, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Why don't I shop in Lilburn or eat there? You have got to be kidding. We have to go to Snellville for a decent restaurant or store. Everything decent that we had closed down over the past 6 years or so. We had an Outback Steakhouse - gone; we had a Starbucks on Highway 29 -gone. All we get are fast food places and pawn shops. If we could sell our house, we would.
IRSG August 29, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Ben - I just wrote something similar. I'm so jealous of the other surrounding cities. We almost NEVER stay in Lilburn to shop or eat. Duh to the people that can't figure this out themselves. Look at what has happened to Lilburn over the past 10 years. The schools, the stores, the restaurants - come on - you don't need a study or a degree to see this.

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