Roadwork begins again in front of DHS


Christopher Rosselot

The City of Decatur began the North McDonough streetscape improvement the week of Sept. 9. City construction workers quickly closed off two lanes of N. McDonough between Trinity and E. Howard closest to DHS, and began pipework.

High school Principal Arlethea Williams knew about the construction plan last year, but she didn’t realize work was going to begin when it did in late September.  

“Somebody, I think downstairs, saw the construction foreman,” Williams said, “so I went out and talked to him and he said, ‘we’re about to begin putting up fencing.’”

The City of Decatur staff communicated with CSD central office staff about the streetscape improvement over the summer, according to Deputy City Manager Hugh Saxon.

The week after construction began, Williams held a meeting with the City Schools of Decatur staff, the Decatur Police Department and the City of Decatur staff to figure out how to adapt to the roadwork. According to Williams, two clear goals came out of this meeting.

“It’s about what makes sense in terms of keeping our students safe and in terms of maintaining the traffic flow for (everybody else),” Williams said.

The North McDonough streetscape improvement is currently north of Decatur High School. In the next week, roadwork should begin in front of the high school.

Junior Caleb Rumsey estimates that the roadwork increased his afternoon drive home by 15 minutes.

“When it goes from a four-lane street to a two-lane street it’s a problem,” Rumsey said.

Because construction began on the north side of N. McDonough, the biggest priority for Williams and Saxon became redirecting Renfroe and Decatur High students to using the sidewalk on the other side of McDonough.

I have been very impressed with how many DHS (and Renfroe MS) students walk
to school and how well they follow the designated pedestrian routes,” Saxon stated.

In the next few weeks, pipework will move down McDonough to the front of the high school. Once again, the DHS administration will need to adapt the daily transportation process. Currently, plans are in place to move the bus lanes from the front of the high school to W. Howard this week (the week of Oct. 17).

After the streetscape improvement is complete, N McDonough will be a two-lane road with a two-way ‘cycle way’ on the side closest to DHS. However, in the near future, DHS students are still looking at a year or more of roadwork on McDonough, and a year of school construction once Phase Two of the DHS Master Plan begins.

“It’s going to be wonderful, we’ve just got to make it through it,” Williams said.

Visit the City of Decatur’s official renovation blog for updates on downtown construction and roadwork.