Councilman Andre Dickens, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and city officials break ground on the DeKalb/Decatur improvement project. (Courtesy City of Atlanta)

Ground was broken Wednesday morning for the long-awaited upgrades and repairs to DeKalb Avenue and Decatur Street.

The Atlanta City Council unanimously approved legislation in June to spend $5.4 million on the improvement project, which is designed to increase safety along the busy corridor from Jackson Street to Ridgecrest Road.

The project, which will be overseen by the Atlanta Department of Transportation, will include removal of the reversible lane, the addition of a dedicated left turn lane, bike lanes along certain sections of the thoroughfare, and road resurfacing and sidewalk repairs.

Decatur/DeKalb is notorious for its potholes and frequent accidents due to the reversible lane. Residents who live in communities along the road as well as commuters have been begging the city for repairs and upgrades for years.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said at the groundbreaking ceremony, held at the Inman Park/Reynoldstown MARTA station., that the improvement project would be “inclusive and sustainable.”

“Decatur Street and DeKalb Avenue connects 11 Intown neighborhoods,” Bottoms said. “Thousands use this street every day. This project gets us a lot of steps closer to having safer streets in Atlanta.”

Councilman Andre Dickens, who chairs the transportation committee, said he’d been work on the DeKalb/Decatur project with stakeholders  for four years, and praised the communities for their efforts and patience.

Rebecca Serna, executive director of Atlanta Bicycle Coalition (ABC), launched a petition in 2014 calling for improvements. “We believe our street design should reflect our city’s values,” she said. “Streets should be accessible to all Atlantans. Those who use  wheelchairs, who scooter, bike, and walk, must have their needs prioritized.”

Serna said ABC was still committed to working with the city to create a multi-use trail along DeKalb Avenue in the future.