Though planned improvements along South College Street, Samford Avenue and Gay Street have been delayed, the city is working toward beginning the project in early 2018.
The improvements project, originally slated for earlier this year, includes road work and improvements to traffic signals and other elements of the intersections of Samford Avenue and Gay and College streets.
The project is expected to cost nearly $4 million with an 80/20 funding split between the Alabama Department of Transportation and the city of Auburn, respectively, according to Public Works Director Jeff Ramsey.
It was pushed back after work on environmental documents took longer than expected, delaying right-of-way acquisition, Ramsey said. The city postponed the bid date until December 2017 to avoid impacting a high-traffic area in downtown during football season.
New lanes are planned for South College Street between Miller Avenue and through the intersection at Samford Avenue.
The two southbound lanes on South College after Miller currently change into one through lane and one left turn lane at the Samford intersection, and Ramsey said there are plans to add an additional through lane. A right-turn lane will also be added heading north on South College at the Samford intersection.
“It’s kind of a capacity issue, but also we’re looking at what we can do to improve the looks of it and really some safety issues for pedestrians as well,” Ramsey said.
A sidewalk will be built on the Auburn University side of South College from Samford to the Donald E. Davis Arboretum, and a new median is planned between Miller and Samford on College that will include a dedicated crosswalk.
“A lot of people cross right there at mid block, so we’re going to create that median so people can cross, get in the median, then they can continue on once it’s safe. That will help from a safety standpoint instead of just standing out there in the middle of the road trying to get across,” Ramsey said.
The median is also expected to help slow traffic down South College, Ramsey said.
“People drive what they feel comfortable in,” Ramsey said. “By adding some obstacles in there, putting those medians in, people don’t feel comfortable going 50 miles an hour. There have been a lot of studies done that show that by adding those kinds of things you expect to see the speeds actually decrease.”
The intersections of Samford Avenue and South College, Samford and Gay, and Miller and South College will receive a facelift with new decorative traffic poles and lights. Resurfacing and drainage improvements are also slated for the areas.
Work is expected to finish by the 2018 football season, and Ramsey said he thinks the changes will make the intersection functions "much better.”