Roswell residents fear crush of traffic from street projects

Hundreds of Roswell residents say plans to relieve congestion along two of the city’s busiest streets could damage their community and make it nearly impossible to leave their neighborhoods.

Residents on north Warsaw Road say they are in the cross-hairs of two proposed projects that will funnel traffic off two major commuter arteries and coax it to their quiet neighborhoods of more than 500 homes and town homes.

Big Creek Parkway would run 3.3 miles from Warsaw Road east over Ga. 400 to Old Alabama Road. The $54 million project is designed to offer local traffic an east-west alternative to Holcomb Bridge Road, which slows to a crawl every rush hour near Ga. 400. More than 60,000 vehicles use that interchange daily.

So far, the city has spent $1.6 million on design work for Big Creek Parkway, but the project has stalled because there are no other funds available. The city continues to look for funding at the state and federal level.

Farther north, plans are proceeding to connect Sun Valley Drive to Warsaw Road, a $2.4 million project that would give traffic on Ga. 9 a route south and east without passing through the often congested downtown. The City Council recently adopted a conceptual plan that calls for widening Sun Valley with a center turn lane up to its existing end, then continue another half-mile to connect with Warsaw. Work could begin as early as 2015.

Residents along the path of both projects say the new roads will turn their sleepy neighborhoods into busy cut-throughs.

“What might help the situation on Holcomb Bridge Road will certainly harm the situation on Warsaw Road,” said Don Perryman, a resident of Willow Brook Townhouses on Warsaw.

Perryman was one of nearly 50 people who attended a public forum Monday to tell city leaders they want no part of either road project.

Claudie Metcalf, who lives in the Bainbridge neighborhood just off Warsaw, said it’s next to impossible to get out of her subdivision now. Adding a through-route connecting to Warsaw will only add to the difficulty, she said.

Christine Halm, who lives in the 271-home Liberty Square subdivision, called the projects “misguided and expensive.”

“We are made up of hardworking families, many of which are immigrants, who have all bought into the American dream,” she said. “Unfortunately, the city of Roswell is turning our American dream into a nightmare.”

The dissent extends farther east, across Ga. 400 near Old Alabama Road.

Carey Garback, who lives in one of 450 homes in Barrington Farms, said it already takes her 20 minutes to access Old Alabama Road and travel one mile to Holcomb Bridge Road. Besides the additional traffic it would create, Big Creek Parkway would also cut through wetlands and wildlife areas, she said.

“If you add another road near there, it’s going to limit wildlife’s opportunity to thrive,” she said.

Roswell transportation director Steve Acenbrak said the exact route for Big Creek Parkway has yet to be determined, but it currently calls for dislocating close to two dozen homes. He said residents along the route could actually benefit by having their own access to key areas of the city.

At the same time, he acknowledged that concerns about increased traffic and additional stormwater runoff need to be monitored.

“I’m sensitive that there’s probably some validity to that,” he said, “and the city will keep a close watch to address problems if they arise.”