A trail connecting Morgan Falls Overlook Park to Roswell Road will be a model for future trails in the city, the leader of the PATH Foundation told Sandy Springs City Council at its retreat on Feb. 3.

The trail is part of a planned 5-mile Central Loop Trail, said Greta deMayo, executive director of the PATH Foundation, which partners with the city to help plan and develop its trails.

The first segment, which will span 1.9 miles, will use a boardwalk to cross the southside of Orkin Lake – with a spur to Edgewater at Sandy Springs Apartments north of the lake – before continuing to Roswell Road.

The trail section connects residents to the Chattahoochee River, Morgan Falls River Park/Dog Park, Morgan Falls Overlook Park, Big Trees Nature Preserve and Trowbridge Crossing Shopping Center.

“The project will allow for the public to see the trail systems elements such as boardwalks, bridges, walls, railings and amenities,” deMayo said.

Excluding land acquisition, this segment of the trail would cost approximately $8.65 million, she said. The two landowners whose property is required for this trail segment will convey the necessary property to the city. All 18 property owners affected by the entire Central Loop Trail have expressed interest. Construction of all sections is estimated at $38.55 million.

Some landowners may not want a trail in their backyards, Mayor Rusty Paul said. “We are getting pushback from Huntcliff about trail systems in that area,” he said.

That’s why the Central Loop Trail was chosen as the first project as no property owner objected to it, deMayo said. The PATH Foundation would not bring another trail segment for City Council to fund and build until it had vetted the project and gotten support, she said.

Sandy Springs adopted a Trail Master Plan in October 2019 that proposed 31 miles of trails connecting 4 existing trails, 12 schools, 15 parks and 3 transit stations. The goal was to build 7 miles of trails in the next 10 years.

“The master plan really focused on connecting the community to desired destinations throughout the city. Those included shopping centers, parks, schools, transit stations and the Chattahoochee River,” deMayo said.

Assistant City Manager Kristin Smith said many of the trail projects scheduled are included as parts of other projects.

The PATH400 Greenway Trail expansion will extend the trail from the city limits to Johnson Ferry using Transportation Special Local Option (TSPLOST) funds. PATH400 is a multi-use trail being built along Ga. 400 from Buckhead into Sandy Springs.

The Roswell Road Boulevard project on the North End includes a side path and is funded with TSPLOST II revenue, she said.

“It’s turned into more than just a side path, and it’ll be an intersection safety improvement as well. But it will provide that side path connectivity as well into the Roswell Road pedestrian bridge,” Smith said.

The Fulton Perimeter Community Improvement District (CID) is partnering with the city on the Mount Vernon HIghway Corridor Improvement Project that will include a bicycle/pedestrian side path on the south side of Mount Vernon. In addition to this side path, the TSPLOST project includes adding a roadway lane within portions of the corridor, sidewalk and associated improvements. The Perimeter CID will contribute $2.85 million for portions of the project within its boundaries.

The Georgia Department of Transportation will also construct a segment of trail from Johnson Ferry Road to Peachtree Dunwoody as part of the Transform 285/400 project.

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.