The widening of Hammond Drive will be the city of Sandy Springs’ top priority when proposals are sent to a regional “roundtable” group deciding how to spend proceeds of a proposed 1-cent transportation sales tax, Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos said Feb. 28.

During her “State of the City” address to the Sandy Springs/Perimeter Chamber of Commerce, Galambos said cities and local governments are to send their proposals to the roundtable group soon. The group is charged with picking projects to be paid for with the proposed 1-cent sales tax, which is to be put before the voters in 2012.

“Hammond widening is going to be our top project,” Galambos. “I think, being a regional project, it’ll be rated pretty high.”

She said city consultants have studied Hammond Drive and recommended that the project include a lane for “rapid transit” buses, which would have fewer stops than regular buses. Sandy Springs likes the idea, she said, because the bus could drop commuters off on Roswell Road, then take Hammond Drive to a stop at the Perimeter area.

The special transportation sales tax would be collected in multi-county regions and spent on projects within the regions. Galambos said Fulton and DeKalb county mayors have said they support the tax provided it provides support for MARTA. MARTA now has its own 1-cent sales tax collected only in Fulton and DeKalb counties.

“We are in favor of the 1-cent sales tax provided the Legislature gives a regional system to pay for MARTA, that we have been paying for for 40 years,” she said.

Asked afterwards if she and the other mayors would oppose the tax if the Legislature does not include MARTA, she declined to answer, saying the question was hypothetical, “because I think they will do it.”

–Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.