Parking spaces along Broad Street in downtown Douglasville may be eliminated as part of the Highway 92 relocation project, according to an official with the Georgia Department of Transportation.
Tori Brown, spokesperson for GDOT, said the current plans are to eliminate eight parking spaces in order to install a turning lane for the new McCarley Street railroad crossing. McCarley Street runs next to Mitchell Appliance on the north side of the tracks and crosses in front of Irish Bred Pub and Fabiano’s on Broad Street.
“At this moment our designers are currently looking into addressing the matter — therefore we do not have a definitive answer for how likely it is for the parking to remain on Broad Street,” Brown said.
Work continues on the Highway 92 relocation project, which will divert the state highway around downtown Douglasville beginning at Hospital Drive south of downtown, under a tunnel east of downtown near Ellis Street and then reconnecting with the main road north of the city at Malone Road.
Once the relocation project is finished — the projected completion is 2019 — the stretch of Highway 92 now currently south of Malone Road that comes into downtown and crosses at Broad Street will become a city street and will possibly be renamed, according to Douglasville City Councilman Richard Segal.
Douglasville Planning Director Michelle Wright said the city was concerned about the possibility of losing the parking spots on Broad Street and that she sent a letter to GDOT on Sept. 28.
“The ability to park on-street along this street is very important to the vitality of our downtown district and the city as a whole,” Wright wrote in the letter. “The parked vehicles enhance the safety of the pedestrians walking along the sidewalk by creating an additional buffer.”
On Oct. 10, the DOT sent a response that said the department would get back in touch with the city soon. The response also included two blueprints, with one having on-street parking and the other not having street parking.
“I think it’s always better if you have convenient parking for the businesses,” Wright said. “So it would help if they didn’t take parking away.”
The spaces that would be taken out are near East Courthouse Square, Wright said. Downtown visitors would have to either park on Church Street or in the conference center parking deck if Broad Street parking was discontinued, Wright said.
Parking at Broad Street goes back to the mid-1820s, according to historian Lisa Cooper.
Wagons parked and camped near an old well and skint chestnut tree, which was around the old courthouse area at the time, according to Cooper.
“Photographic evidence of parking in the area came around in the 1940s,” Cooper said. “There was a point in time where the area included metered parking, maybe in the 1950s, but the citizens despised the meters. The meters were taken out, brought in again, before being taken out one last time.”