A new Pill Hill road extending the Perimeter Center Parkway “flyover bridge” to Johnson Ferry Road would aid traffic and is worth a full study, according to a report delivered last week to the Perimeter Center Improvement Districts, which will hold a community meeting on the plan in coming months.

A PCIDs map showing the proposed "flyover bridge" extension running along the eastern side to the right.
A PCIDs map showing the proposed “flyover bridge” extension running along the eastern side to the right.

Meanwhile, PCIDs is close to securing a $4 million grant to build an already planned Pill Hill project that would make bicycle and pedestrian improvements to Peachtree-Dunwoody Road and Lake Hearn Drive, said Yvonne Williams, the PCIDs president and CEO. The work also would make room for a PATH400 multi-use trail extension through the intersection.

Both projects aim to boost walkability, connectivity and “all the things to build an urban center,” Williams said.

The PCIDs flyover bridge over I-285 was completed in 2007 and is sometimes jokingly called the “bridge to nowhere” as it ends at Lake Hearn Drive. However, PCIDs long planned to make it a bridge to somewhere with a 2,000-foot road extending from the Lake Hearn Drive intersection to Johnson Ferry, running along the Sandy Springs-Brookhaven border on the eastern side of Emory Saint Joseph Hospital’s campus.

The flyover bridge extension idea revived last year amid renewed Pill Hill traffic concerns related to plans for a large apartment development. PCIDs commissioned a preliminary feasibility study for $5,000 from Gresham, Smith and Partners, a firm that is also conducting an Ashford-Dunwoody Road improvement study for the city of Brookhaven.

The study, delivered to the PCIDs board in late January, says the new road would produce a “significant reduction” of Peachtree-Dunwoody Road traffic and “no significant increase” in Johnson Ferry traffic.

About 700 feet of the road would have to be a bridge over a stream and wetlands, the study says. Exactly how and where it would connect with Johnson Ferry is also a question, as Williams said there are two or three possible alignments.

“It would be an expensive project. It’s not a small-ticket item,” Williams said.

The study was “first-level work” with “no technical findings,” Williams said. So the next step is convening city officials, Pill Hill hospitals and residents for a meeting to see if there’s support “to go into a deeper-dive study,” she said. The PCIDs will arrange that meeting, probably sometime in the next few months, Williams said.

At the same January board meeting, PCIDs learned that that Atlanta Regional Commission staff recommended $4 million in grant funding to build the Peachtree-Dunwoody/Lake Hearn improvement project, which PCIDs and the city of Sandy Springs began planning in 2012. The project would widen both streets—including Peachtree-Dunwoody beneath the I-285 bridge—to add “full bicycle and pedestrian crosswalk amenities,” Williams said. It also makes room for an extension of the PATH 400 multi-use trail.

A PCIDs illustration (top) shows the future Peachtree-Dunwoody Road under a wider I-285 bridge. At bottom, a PCIDs photo of the road as it looks today.
A PCIDs illustration (top) shows the future Peachtree-Dunwoody Road under a wider I-285 bridge. At bottom, a PCIDs photo of the road as it looks today.

The project would take about two years to build and must coordinate with the state’s upcoming reconstruction of the I-285/Ga. 400 interchange.

The grant still needs a vote by the ARC board, which is expected in March. “Would I be surprised if we didn’t get it? I would absolutely be surprised,” Williams said, noting the project’s strong support from city and MARTA officials.

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.