The city of Sandy Springs finalized its wish list of transportation sales tax projects at the June 7 City Council meeting. It also presented a traffic study to back one of the most controversial items, a design for possible widening of Hammond Drive, and gave hints as to possible details.
The T-SPLOST project list was cut from 10 previously listed projects to nine. The project removed was a concept of “flex lanes” on I-285, essentially turning the shoulders into travel lanes during high traffic. The state Department of Transportation can’t agree to that idea yet, said City Manager John McDonough. The idea could still be funded by other means.
The transportation sales tax, or T-SPLOST, is slated to go before Fulton County voters Nov. 8. Revenue from the five-year sales tax increase of up to 0.75 percent would be split among area cities. The projected revenue from the T-SPLOST has ticked upward. That’s partly because the revenue is based on city population, and Sandy Springs is now estimated by the Atlanta Regional Commission at about 105,000 people, McDonough said. That means the city is projected to receive about $104 million from the T-SPLOST, up from $101 million, with a maximum of $119 million, up from $116 million.
The T-SPLOST list includes two projects that are controversial in their neighborhoods, but which also received broad support in T-SPLOST meetings and surveys. One is turning the intersection of Mount Vernon Highway and Johnson Ferry Road into dual roundabouts.
The other is a longstanding idea to widen a two-lane section of Hammond Drive between Roswell Road and Glenridge Drive. Local neighborhood associations strongly oppose the idea, saying it would mean demolishing dozens of homes and that it has never been backed by a credible traffic study. In recent months, the city has geared up to perform that study and already bought three residential lots as placeholders in case the widening is determined to be a good idea.
The T-SPLOST would help fund more property purchases as well as a study and design, including public meetings and at least three alternatives, city officials said. It does not fund any actual construction and council members emphasized that decision has not been made.
However, the city did present a new traffic study for that section of Hammond that says the street will be choked without some kind of changes. And McDonough said the study was based on the idea of the street as a “four-lane divided boulevard with sidewalks and bike lanes on both sides.” Council member Gabriel Sterling later said it also includes a 40-foot right of way for potential alternative transit; officials have previously talked about potential streetcars, bus lines or monorails.
The study was performed and presented by consulting traffic engineer France Campbell. He said it included traffic counts performed in April while school was in session and factors in 11 major developments planned or underway in the area, such as Dunwoody’s State Farm and High Street projects.
He said the study found that most intersections on that section of Hammond function at acceptable levels of service now, at least from a traffic engineer’s point of view. But by 2026, most are projected to be unacceptable, essentially meaning near gridlock condition, he said. Beyond widening, some of those intersections could be improved with turn lanes, roundabouts or “other types of innovative intersections,” he said.
McDonough said the full traffic study will be posted on the city website for inspection on June 8.
June 8 is also the day the city will deliver the T-SPLOST list to Fulton County for inclusion on the countywide ballot question. No one spoke during the public comment before the City Council voted to approve the list and send it to the county. Fulton County also has its own list of county-wide projects. The portion of Fulton within the city of Atlanta is not included, because Atlanta has its own, separate T-SPLOST underway.
The following is the Sandy Springs T-SPLOST list. Projects in the first two “tiers” are likely to be funded by project revenue and Tier Three would get any leftovers. The order of projects within the tiers doesn’t matter, and not included is an administrative fee for county auditing of the projects. All of the projects are already planned; T-SPLOST money would just speed them up.
- Traffic efficiency improvements: a variety of intersection and traffic signal upgrades: $18 million
- Perimeter Center Last Mile Connectivity: Helping with an interconnected multi-use trail network that can double as right of way for potential alternative mass transit like light rail or monorails: $8 million
- Sidewalk program: $11 million
- Mount Vernon/Johnson Ferry dual roundabouts: $26 million
- Mount Vernon Highway multi-use path between Roswell Road and the Sandy Springs MARTA Station: $11 million
- Hammond Drive widening design: $16 million
- PATH400 extension: Fill in a “missing link” of the multi-use trail from Buckhead to a planned section on the Pill Hill hospital area that will be built as part of the Ga. 400/I-285 interchange reconstruction: $5.5 million
- Roberts Drive multi-use path connecting Roswell Road and Island Ford Park: $5.5 million
- Roadway maintenance and paving: $16,785,429