An illustration shows the “full grid” concept for the Johnson Ferry/Mt. Vernon intersection. (City of Sandy Springs)

Engineers were instructed by the Sandy Springs City Council to begin designing part of the Mt. Vernon and Johnson Ferry intersection “grid” concept while the council continues debating the two options. The options, a “full” or “compressed” grid, differ mainly in the amount of right of way they would need and how much green space would be created.

The grid concept would change the unusual x-shaped intersection into two independent streets connected by the new cut-through road east of the Sandy Springs Library.

The city presented updated versions of the concepts at an Aug. 30 meeting, where over 200 residents weighed in on the designs, which both include a controversial plan to build a cut-through road that would require the taking of a long-time resident’s house, although the city said it plans to not take the house until it “becomes available.”

An illustration shows the “compressed grid” concept. (City of Sandy Springs)

In the full version, the city would need to take all commercial properties on the south side of the intersection between Roswell and Boylston including a Chevron gas station, bank and an Enterprise car rental outlet, officials said. The compressed grid would likely save those properties, and an estimated $5 to $10 million on right-of-way acquisition costs.

The full grid would create a miniature park of 2.4 acres. The compressed grid would save 0.8 acres.

That money may go farther in other parts of the city to buy properties and create more green space than at this intersection, Councilmember John Paulson said at the council’s Sept. 4 meeting.

“It sounds like a lot to add a little more green space,” he said.

Councilmember Andy Bauman said he shared Paulson’s concern on the cost.

“None of us take eminent domain lightly. I think we should do the minimum amount necessary to achieve the goals of this project,” Bauman said.

An illustration shows the green spaces and roads as they would appear in the grid concepts for the Johnson Ferry/Mt. Vernon intersection presented at an Aug. 30 meeting. This illustration shows the concepts without full landscaping. (City of Sandy Springs)

Councilmember Tibby DeJulio said he thinks the full grid was more attractive and he fears the city may regret choosing the compressed grid in a few years.

The council chose to instruct staff to move forward with creating a detailed design for the part of the project that is similar in both concepts. That includes the northern road, the sections of the both roads that are east of the library and the cut-through road. The council plans to decide between the two versions by the October meeting, but Mayor Rusty Paul said that does not signal the end of input on the project.

“Let me just reassure everybody: this is not the end. We’re about halfway through the decision-making process,” he said. 

There will be more public input on the full design once it is finished, he said.

“There’s still a long journey on this project,” Paul said.

For more information, including the meeting presentation and pictures of the design, visit the city’s webpage on the project.