Known as the Gateway project, it has been the source of frustration for residents and officials for more than a decade. Atlanta Street is a major commuter route with a reversible center lane and is used to travel further into north Fulton or south into Sandy Springs to access Ga. 400.
Roswell residents complain that the road is an alternative route for motorists driving from Cobb County, causing gridlock.
Residents, including a group on a newly formed Transportation Advisory Commission, welcome road improvements but disagree with project designs for the state road. They’re asking for changes and will discuss the project with officials during a City Council work session at 5 p.m. Monday at City Hall.
The now $58 million project has increased $5 million since 2020. The Georgia Department of Transportation is funding 70 percent of the costs for engineering, property acquisitions, utility work and construction.
Roswell’s portion is $13 million but Brechbill said: “There could be redesign and potentially construction cost increases (and) substantial project delays with major changes in the project concept.”
The city is paying for aesthetics, some design, and work that will take place within the national park section of the project. A total of $2 million will be the city’s match in securing an $8 million grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission.
The Atlanta Street corridor is lined with small businesses and a canopy of trees. Under the current project design, GDOT construction requires clearing 40-60 feet of space and the acquisition of 67 parcels of land that include part of business owners’ property and cutting down trees.
Only 12 of the parcels needed had been acquired by GDOT as of early August, according to Brechbill, and seven condemnations were pending.
The state transportation agency did not return phone calls or an email from the AJC.
Brechbill said GDOT is considering reducing the planned width of the new traffic lanes to 10.5-feet from 11-feet wide between Warm Springs Circle and Marietta Highway, at Roswell’s request.
Councilman Mike Palermo said wider traffic lanes make Atlanta Street a more attractive cut-through option for motorists who don’t live in Roswell.
“The focus really should be for the safety of Roswell residents,” Palermo said of the project. “I would certainly like to see it on a smaller scale. I’m certainly hoping we can bring somewhat of a more real change to reduce some of the pavement.
Atlanta Street’s reversible lanes begin at an unsafe intersection where Roswell borders Sandy Springs at Roswell Road, Azalea Drive and Riverside Road. The intersection, located at one end of the Roswell Road bridge over the Chattahoochee River, has been a common site of vehicle collisions.
According to the city, there were 698 vehicle crashes on Atlanta Street from 2015-18. One was a fatality, 23 were head-on collisions.
At the four-way intersection, access to Azalea from any direction on Roswell Road or Atlanta Street will require motorists to turn onto Riverside Road and proceed to a roundabout that would turn them around towards Azalea Drive. Drivers turning left onto Riverside Road from Atlanta Street will have less of a wait at the traffic light signal than they do today, officials say.
A second bridge over the Chattahoochee will be added beside the Roswell Road bridge to facilitate right turns onto Riverside Road and Azalea Drive.
Transportation Advisory Commission member George Vail is recommending a modification to designs that remove the traffic signal from the intersection having only dedicated right lanes from each corner and no left turns.
“The beautiful Greenway (multi-use path) that we have coming up from the bridge is going to be gone,” Vail said of current plans during a July commission meeting. “It’s going to be blown out.”