GDOT moves ahead on Ga. 400 lanes without Alpharetta’s big ask

Alpharetta will get an unwanted interchange from the Ga. 400 express lane project as negotiations with the state have ended.

Along with other cities in North Fulton and the school district, Alpharetta for months has been arguing for changes that would have made the transformative $1.6 billion project work for them.

Mayor Jim Gilvin said Monday night at a meeting that the Georgia Department of Transportation had denied one of their key proposals, a signature intersection at Encore Parkway instead of one at Webb Bridge Road.

READ | Ga. 400 project set to make winners, losers out of N. Fulton cities

"Unfortunately, GDOT expressed no interest in pursuing our suggestions for using the bridge that was built at Encore Parkway to accommodate four lanes and continues to move forward with their proposal for the Ga. 400 flex lane exit at what they call Webb Bridge+, which is between Webb Bridge and Windward Parkway," Gilvin said.

Gilvin said GDOT did agree to some concessions, but neither he nor the state agency could immediately give those details.

“After two years of work with the City of Alpharetta, and multiple public information open houses earlier this year at which GDOT received much public input on the project, unfortunately the recent request to make Encore Parkway an express lanes interchange doesn’t fit in the timeline necessary for advancing the project,” said GDOT spokeswoman Natalie Dale on Wednesday.

She said GDOT will continue to work with Alpharetta and plans to hold more public hearings next year.

BACKGROUND | Ga. 400 future in North Fulton is negotiable — but not for much longer

The state is set to build 16 miles of toll lanes on Ga. 400 between the North Springs MARTA station and McFarland Parkway. More than 6.5 miles of the project will be in Alpharetta, Gilvin said. The project also represents MARTA’s first step in a larger expansion north, with the agency adding four bus rapid transit stations along the road.

Gilvin sent a letter in late August with suggestions that included the Encore Parkway change. GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry responded in early September saying he was “very perplexed” because GDOT was asked to remove it from the plan in 2017.

At the time that confusion became public, Gilvin said he was surprised to see that response because the city had not taken a formal position on the Encore Parkway interchange until August.

BACKGROUND | Ga. 400 plan could cost Fulton schools nearly $10M for safety

“We’ll move forward,” he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Sept. 13. “We’ll figure out what the miscommunication is and we’ll clear it up.”

Gilvin explained the miscommunication on Monday.

He said a GDOT representative told him that GDOT in 2017 was told by a council member at the time — without authorization or City Council approval — “to remove that Encore bridge from consideration.”

On Monday, Gilvin said: “GDOT at this time has no interest in revisiting that decision that was made without any public input. So that’s where we stand now. They did express that they certainly would like to have the approval of the city of Alpharetta and our residents, however they’re moving forward on their timeline.”

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How we got here:

Previously: GDOT is set to build 16 miles of toll lanes on Ga. 400 between the North Springs MARTA station and McFarland Parkway.

Happening now: The state rejected Alpharetta's request for an intersection at Encore Parkway.

What's next: The toll lane project continues to move forward