By Amy Wenk

The city of Sandy Springs is moving forward with a plan to widen the Roswell Road bridge over I-285, Mayor Eva Galambos said.

She said the state Department of Transportation has approved the city’s design plans for the heavily-traveled bridge.

“They’ve required many, many changes in the design,” Galambos said June 10. “They made us do additional things that cost more.”

Those additions include resurfacing the entire bridge deck, said Jon Drysdale, deputy public works director. The city only planned to improve the east side of the bridge but now must work on both sides.

The widening project aims to reduce traffic congestion in the city by increasing its width from 64 to 86 feet. Another lane would be added to the now five-lane bridge. The lane would be a dedicated left-turn lane, which would give eastbound and westbound motorists their own lane for turning onto I-285 from Roswell Road. Drivers in both directions must presently share a left-turn lane.

Other improvements include sidewalks on both sides of the bridge, wider ramps onto the interstate and medians on Roswell Road before and after the bridge to prevent left turns onto Allen Road, Carpenter Drive and Northwood Drive.

Improvements to the bridge have been discussed since the 1990s, Galambos said. Around 2000, she said, the state transportation department appointed a committee to work on widening the bridge.

But tired of waiting for state projects like revive285 to come to fruition, the city pressed forward with its own plan and paid firm Arcadis to design the project.

“To me, it’s the biggest bottleneck that we’ve got for traffic moving up and down Roswell Road,” Galambos said. “It backs up so that it impinges on traffic all the way through the downtown area. In terms our merchants, we are trying to improve traffic so it will be easier to shop in Sandy Springs. That is why it’s so important to get rid of this bottleneck.”

Galambos said the project requires additional approval to proceed. “It is unbelievable how many steps you have to go through.”

She said a field inspection and environmental review were likely to be next.

“We are still hoping that all of this will happen in the next six to eight weeks,” Galambos said. “But we are at the mercy of other agencies in terms of when they schedule these reviews.”

The project is estimated to cost $4 million, Galambos said. The city has a $1.6 million federal earmark to help pay for it.

“Hopefully, we will get the rest of the money soon,” Director of Public Works Tom Black said at a June 1 City Council meeting. Black said he is looking for money from the state DOT to help pay for the widening and has applied for grants. “We are going to every avenue we can.”

Black said he hopes to begin construction in September. The project could take about a year to complete.