A plan to fix the top end if I-285 is running into the city of Sandy Springs’ plan to build a downtown.

Both are long-term projects, but the city’s plans are moving more quickly. ARCADIS, the consultant hired by the state Department of Transportation and the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority, recently asked the city to sign off on plans buy a piece of Allen Park to make way for the I-285 improvements.

City Council members weren’t concerned about Allen Park, but they were very concerned about the project’s potential impact on Sandy Springs Circle. Sandy Springs Circle is a major component of the city’s plans to revive its downtown, an effort that will cost upwards of $100 million.

“We’re all unanimous that we don’t want Sandy Springs Circle messed with,” City Councilman Tibby DeJulio said to an ARCADIS planner during an Aug. 30 update on the project.

The I- 285 improvement effort is called Revive285 and the planning process has been ongoing since 2006. The “top end” of I- 285 is the portion between the intersections of I-75 and I-85, much of it in the city’s front yard. The plan is in the midst of environmental reviews.

Any real construction would be years away, said ARCADIS Senior transportation Planner Timothy Preece. Funding hasn’t been identified and cost estimates run into the billions. Under some of the options being considered, Sandy Springs Circle would be opened to additional traffic to ease congestion along I-285.

“We’ve tested several design options which potentially could include access from 285 to Sandy Springs Circle,” Preece said. “One concept would be for just general traffic. The other concept would be that future managed lanes would have access to Sandy Springs Circle, and of course there’s always the option that no access would be provided to Sandy Springs Circle.”

What would be the earliest residents could expect to see changes to the road?

“If all the chips fell in the right places at the very earliest you’d be looking at five or six years from now,” Preece said. Realistically, any improvements would be 10 to 15 years off, he said.

Sandy Springs already is acquiring land and setting aside money to begin work on the city center project. Giving approval to buying a piece of Allen Park wouldn’t mean the city is also signing off on any of the models for Sandy Springs Circle, Preece said.

Preece said Sandy Springs’ opinion would weigh heavily in any final plans for the project.

City Council members during the April 30 meeting didn’t leave any room for interpretation.

“We do not need you going onto Sandy Springs Circle,” City Councilwoman Karen Meinzen-McEnerny said.

Dan Whisenhunt wrote for Reporter Newspapers from 2011-2014. He is the founder and editor of Decaturish.com