The Sandy Springs Planning Commission has demanded input on a plan to narrow and add trails to Sandy Springs Circle, a design one commissioner called “stupid.”

A map illustrating the Sandy Springs Circle project, as shown on the city's construction web page. The map is oriented with north to the right and west at the top.
A map illustrating the Sandy Springs Circle project, as shown on the city’s construction web page. The map is oriented with north to the right and west at the top.

The roadway redesign, planned for years and slated to happen in 2017, has drawn questions and criticisms since a public meeting last month. Bicycle advocates have questioned whether the project meets modern design standards, and Mayor Rusty Paul has expressed confusion.

“I know I’ve been briefed on this, but I still don’t quite get in my own mind how we’re going to move traffic through there,” the mayor said at an April 5 City Council meeting, where he and council member John Paulson also noted the “canyon”-like look of the design.

The plan is focused on the stretch of Sandy Springs Circle between Hammond Drive and Mount Vernon Highway. Its controversial points include turning two travel lanes into on-street parking; constructing high retaining walls; and mixing bike and pedestrian traffic on a path that crosses several driveways. It was originally part of a redesign of all of Sandy Springs Circle, but the northern half of the project—which includes lowering the steeply sloped Mount Vernon intersection—recently was made separate and is underway now.

The Planning Commission on April 21 voted to request a staff presentation on the plan so it can take a “formal position.” Commissioner Dave Nickels said Mayor Paul encouraged the commission’s review in private comments.

City Community Development Director Michelle Alexander said the plan is no longer open for public comment and noted it dates to a 2001 study and was approved in the city’s 2012 City Center Master Plan. She suggested the commission review the plan along with several other street projects in a “retreat” to be held later this spring, adding the city  has “concern about managing expectations of public input at this stage.”

“I don’t want to just discuss it…I want the public here with an opportunity to provide input,” Nickels responded, also making clear that he is not a fan of the design. “Well, it’s a stupid—I’m going to get blunt. It’s the dumbest idea I’ve seen in [the] City Center [plan]…It’s stupid.”

Paul did not respond to Reporter questions about the commission vote and his current thoughts about the plan.

City spokesperson Sharon Kraun later said the commission will get its information. “The project was a transportation initiative, and typically the Planning Commission is not provided a formal review on transportation projects,” she said.

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

9 replies on “Officials question Sandy Springs Circle roadway plan”

  1. Is there one person besides a traffic engineer who actually believes it is a good idea to build the largest development in Sandy Springs and cut in half the # of lanes serving that area w/o creating traffic chaos?

    There is universal agreement that traffic is our biggest problem in Sandy Springs, yet some planner has decided that this utopian idea of walkability trumps reality. If traffic is backed up for hours every day along this stretch I doubt whether pedestrians and cyclists will enjoy the fumes and the road rage while they walk to City Center.

  2. We are getting a “taste” of this with the current closing of the Mt. Vernon/ SS Circle intersection. Add to this the MB expansion, the Roswell road projects and you people in west Sandy Springs are gonna just have a ball. What will the Mayor think of next….

    1. NOT at 7:10 in am and 5 pm, …”one of the least used roads..”is a relative term and since many roads in SS are packed with cars in the rush hour(S), not a very accurate reflection of the number of cars on this road….

  3. The comment that SSC road is not a well used road was written from someone that does not know their way around Sandy Springs. Prior to all the construction it was a great “less traveled” road for locals to get around the regular congestion. With all the new development, we need to talk about widening roads and forcing parking in parking decks. Adding any street parking to the City Center area will bring traffic to a stop. Sorry local businesses that may want the parking… but if you can’t get there, it won’t matter if there are parking spots or not.

  4. Who pays the taxes? The citizens of Sandy Springs pay the taxes. Who elects the officials? The citizens of Sandy Springs elect the officials. Therefore, no matter what came before when times were altogether different, the citizens of Sandy Springs should be a major source of any definitive argument and plan. Laws and rules are put forth to change with the times as seen fit by a majority. It is a ridiculous plan and it is exasperating that there is any doubt of the poor judgement putting forth this plan.

  5. It appears that the city government is not considering the existing residents. I live west of Roswell Road so use Sandy Springs Circle to access Sandy Springs business locations. My option will be to shop in East Cobb which means lost of revenue for local business and a loss of sales tax revenues.

  6. I live west of Riverside Drive and use Sandy Springs circle to access local business locations. I appears that I will now shop in East Cobb which means loss of revenue for our local businesses and loss of sales tax revenues.
    With the expanding population of this area we need to address traffic problems not some planners idea of a neat concept. We voted to have our own government instead of Fulton and now we have a government that does not want to consider the needs of the citizens..

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