By Joe Earle

Bike paths and mass transit scored highly and a proposal to widen Hammond Road scored poorly when Sandy Springs residents rated possible transportation improvements in north Fulton County.

The ratings, done by a small group of residents who attended a public meeting May 11, were part of an Atlanta Regional Commission survey of reactions to a list of possible transportation improvement projects planners have developed to address transportation needs for north Fulton communities.

The Sandy Springs meeting on May 11 was intended as the first of a series of community discussions about the proposals. Similar gatherings were planned in Johns Creek, Mountain Park, Roswell, Alpharetta and Milton.

The meetings were part of an effort by the Atlanta Regional Commission and the cities to develop a comprehensive transportation plan for the area.

“Nothing like this has been done in the state of Georgia,” said project manager Ed Ellis of Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. “While this is all in Fulton County, it is crossing jurisdictional lines of six cities.”

That, in turn, should help the cities as they pursue federal funds to pay for the projects, officials said.

“We need to look past city borders to see how we can be more competitive,” said Cedric Clark, transportation planner for the city of Sandy Springs.

Planners’ preliminary proposals included adding high-capacity transit lanes to Ga. 400, creating a new Chattahoochee River crossing at Northridge and Riverside roads or at Spalding Drive to Eves Road, adding a partial interchange with Ga. 400 near Riverside Drive and putting medians on portions of Roswell Road.

Planners attending the session said they realized that not all the proposals were affordable or politically practical.

“Implementation is the key,” said Frank Danchetz, a consultant on the project. “If we can’t get it out of the ground, it doesn’t do us any good.”

The idea of increasing mass transit drew support from the Sandy Springs participants.

“What mass transit should do is get cars off Ga. 400 and I-285,” Doug Falciglia said.

“Bingo!” agreed Michael McGuinn III. “The most important thing we’re doing in mass transit is getting cars off the road.”

Participants in the session voted for proposals by marking them with green stickers and by placing red stickers next to proposals they thought were bad ideas. The proposal to widen Hammond Road was among the ones attracting the largest number of red stickers.

Several people at the meeting said daily backups on Hammond were created not by local traffic, but by drivers passing through the community en route to I-285.

“The problem is at Roswell Road,” Falciglia said. “I certainly don’t think you want to bring more traffic into Sandy Springs that’s trying to get to 285.”