Roswell Road at I-285
Project Summary for the Community Web Site -- July 2002
The interchange at I-285 and
Roswell Road -- it’s both our greatest asset and our greatest
challenge. For over three decades, this portal to Sandy Springs has
introduced families to a suburban lifestyle unmatched in the Atlanta
region, and has brought economic opportunity and prosperity for the
businesses that have chosen to locate along Roswell Road.
But these days the interchange is
starting to show its age. While recent community and County efforts to
improve its appearance are succeeding, the interchange is blamed as
the major cause of congestion and delays all up and down the Roswell
Road business corridor. From early morning through midday to evening
rush hour, local and regional traffic stacks up, immobilized for
anywhere from five to fifteen minutes. Meanwhile pedestrians trying to
walk from residential areas on the south to shopping destinations on
the north play a dangerous game as they wend their way across the
According to Georgia Department
of Transportation Project Designer Albert Shelby, the main problem is
the lack of “storage capacity” on the I-285 ramps and in the left turn
lanes on Roswell Road. On a traffic engineer’s scale of “A” which
represents “free flowing”, to “F” for “getting nowhere fast”, this
interchange rates an “F” in GDOT’s book or anybody’s book.
interchange is being redesigned from stem to stern, including a brand
new bridge over I-285, dual left turn lanes in each direction and
major operational improvements. “This is the biggest road project to
hit Sandy Springs since Georgia 400,” says Sandy Springs
Revitalization Vice Chairman Roger Blichfeldt.
Blichfeldt is among the Sandy
Springs Revitalization and Sandy Springs Business Association members
who participated with other community representatives on a 17-member
GDOT Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) that began looking seriously at
technical requirements and interchange design alternatives in
September of 2001.
reviewing various options, such as the “Single-point”, “Partial
Cloverleaf” and “Split-Diamond”, the CAC recommended the “Tight Urban
Diamond Interchange” (TUDI) concept as the least invasive and best
scenario to present for public comment at a community meeting held
November 29th 2001.
Although the TUDI design would
require additional bridge width and right-of-way for turning lanes and
approach lanes, the Citizens Advisory Committee believes that this
type of interchange would (1) require the least additional width; (2)
be the most pedestrian friendly, allowing for wider sidewalks; and (3)
offer a larger storage area for left and through movements.
The total project length of the
TUDI design is approximately one-half mile along Roswell Road,
including .38 of a mile of roadway and .1 mile of bridge. In order to
build the new bridge while keeping existing lanes open for traffic,
GDOT engineers plan to shift the bridge alignment permanently, either
to the east or west.
Other design components being
considered or required are:
A raised median at the approach
areas between Cliftwood and Lake Placid on Roswell Road to separate
traffic flowing in opposing directions.
Realignment of Carpenter Drive
and Cliftwood Drive to eliminate staggered street crossings and
provide more efficient signal and traffic operations.
A right in only at Allen Road,
and a cul-de-sac at Northwoods Drive to eliminate intersections too
close to the interchange ramps.
A “braided ramp” eastbound on
I-285 intended to smooth mainline traffic flow and eliminate the
dangerous weaving that occurs among vehicles entering I-285 from
Roswell Road and those vehicles exiting I-285 at Glenridge and GA
Modifications to I-285 under
the Roswell Road Bridge to accommodate ten 12-foot travel lanes,
full width shoulders, HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes for carpool
and busses, and room for future Collector Distributor lanes.
Improved bike and pedestrian
facilities including 9-foot sidewalks and 4-foot bike lanes along
Roswell between Lake Placid Drive and Cliftwood Drive.
By eliminating traffic delays and
serving pedestrians better, it is hoped that the new interchange will
promote energy conservation, relieve current congestion and serve the
future demand anticipated as employment and traffic in the region
moves to and through Sandy Springs.
While anticipated long-term
benefits are many, properties in close proximity to the interchange
will be greatly impacted both by the construction and the sheer size
of the interchange. The proposed bridge will be much wider and longer
than the existing structure, causing Roswell Road south of the
interchange to be raised as much as ten feet to maintain clearances
under it -- affecting business frontage, access and displacing some
In April of 2002, the Civic
Advisory Committee members were asked to make their final
recommendations, considering particularly the consequences of either a
westward or an eastward shift of the bridge. The Sandy Springs
Business Association contacted impacted property owners along Roswell
Road to get their feedback, which was presented at the final CAC
meeting held April 29th, 2002.
Based on the available
information and a discussion of the pros and cons, the committee
members voted 9 to 5 to recommend that the eastern orientation for the
new bridge and roadway be presented at the July 10th 2002
GDOT Public Information Meeting. (See sidebar “Pros & Cons”)
Several businesses expressed
their concern that the proposed medians would limit easy access from
Roswell Road to local businesses. GDOT responded that their
guidelines specify a 20-foot raised median where current traffic
volumes exceed 18,000 vehicles per day and design year traffic exceeds
24,000 vehicles per day. Since Roswell Road handles 48,300 vehicles
per day now and is projected to have 66,600 vehicles per day in the
design year, GDOT will require the medians as a part of this design.
Others worried about the access
issues that would be created by cul-de-sacking Northwoods Drive and
Allen Road. The CAC members recommended that GDOT review the right-ins
and right outs for all intersections impacted by the interchange
design, and coordinate with an urban designer to mitigate the traffic
impacts associated with restricted access
The CAC members requested GDOT
apply the highest possible standards for environmental review, and use
all measures to protect the Long Island Creek Watershed from possible
damage that might result from construction activities.
The CAC members further
recommended that this project use the highest possible standards for
an aesthetically pleasing bridge, and use Sandy Springs Overlay Design
standards for all streetscaping and sidewalks.
As a business person or a
resident with a stake in the future of your community, it is important
that you let your voice be heard – if you were unable to attend the
GDOT Public Information Meeting held on July 10th, you can
still submit your written comments if you do so before July 20th
GDOT hopes to complete the
Concept & Environmental Phase by the end of 2002. Preliminary
Engineering, Right of Way Acquisition, and Final Engineering would
follow, with construction possible as early as 2005.
||East vs. West Pros and Cons
Offers best chance for property assemblage and viable business
redevelopment on the southwest and northwest side of I-285;
Offers opportunity to create rear access to businesses on
northwest side of I-285;
Fewer total businesses would be lost;
Cost to purchase right of way estimated at $14 million;
Opportunity for bus pull-out at Northwood Drive;
The oak trees in the northeast quadrant would be eliminated.
chance of saving the old oak tree in the northeast quadrant if
project construction can avoid the drip line of the tree;
Will reduce curb cuts/access to businesses on west side of
Opportunity for bus pullout at Northwood Drive;
More businesses would be lost resulting in increased right of
way costs estimated at $18 million to buy out displaced
Less opportunity to create rear access or assemble properties
north of I-285.
comments by July 20th to:
Keepler, State Environment/Location Engineer
Circle, Atlanta, GA
If you need
additional information, please contact Albert Shelby at
404-656-5440. Or E-mail Albert at
(247); P.I. No. 0000247.
You can follow project progress on the Sandy Springs Community web
CAC committee participants Jim Hale and Tom Oulette review the
proposed concept design at the November GDOT Public Information
(2) Schematic of proposed
“Tight Urban Design Interchange”. (3) Property owners Mike
Aldredge (Days Inn) and Joseph Ahlzadeh (Copeland Village) review
business access issues with SSRI Boardmember Cheri Morris. (4)
Wht is the best orientedatio for the road -- east or west?
Can the old oak tree be saved?