Members of the I-75 Corridor Coalition heard Thursday from a group of Georgia Tech students on the importance of walkability in local towns and cities.
The meeting of the coalition was held at the Idlewilde Event Center inside Indian Springs State Park in Butts County.
The Georgia Tech masters students — Micah Bray, David Kobe and Freyja Brandel-Tanis — studied areas throughout the corridor, including downtown Macon, as well as efforts made to improve walkability and pedestrian access in other communities in the Southeast.
They presented a number of recommendations to the coalition, including increasing the number of windows on the first floor of buildings along pedestrian walkways to boost visual interest.
Other recommendations included increasing tree cover to provide shade and lower temperatures for those walking in the summer, and utilizing alleyways to create public spaces for gathering and mobility away from major auto corridors.
The group also had recommendations for zoning practices that emphasize how a development fits into its surroundings, rather than simply whether the planned use is permitted in a given district. The idea — called transect zoning — attempts to increase the density and intensity of uses as development approaches a city center.
The I-75 Corridor Coalition first began organizing in late 2017 with the intent to promote and influence development along the Interstate 75 corridor south of Atlanta, from Henry County to Macon-Bibb County. Its member governments include Henry, Butts, Spalding, Monroe, Lamar and Macon-Bibb counties, along with a number of cities along the route.
The region is a major logistics route not just in Georgia but for the Southeast, a stretch of interstate tying the Port of Savannah to Atlanta, with traffic and development expected to grow in coming years as the Savannah harbor is deepened and e-commerce continues to gain prominence.
State officials are currently working on plans to build commercial vehicle-only lanes along I-75 from Macon to McDonough to accommodate the increasing truck traffic.
The I-75 Corridor Coalition, chaired by Monroe County Commission Chairman Greg Tapley, has met half a dozen times in the past year to learn about and discuss transit and development issues.