A trail section from Morgan Falls Overlook Park along the Chattahoochee River to Roswell Road and an extension of PATH 400 along Ga. 400 will be concrete examples of the Sandy Springs Trails Master Plan.
“I don’t want to say we’re starting from scratch, but a long thought-out trail, off-road trail system hadn’t really been developed back in the day,” Recreation and Parks Director Mike Perry said. “So this was something that we undertook with the PATH Foundation to kind of look at how can we have as many interconnecting as well as inter-jurisdictional connections as we could.”
The city wants to give residents of Sandy Springs and neighboring cities access to the city through local trails and parks, he said.
Some of the trails will tie into existing and planned public works projects. A side path along Mount Vernon Highway will install sidewalks from the Sandy Springs Library Branch to the MARTA station, he said.
Trail segment linking river, Roswell Road could start this month
Sandy Springs City Council approved a $7.8 million bid from GHC Corp. for the construction of Trail Segment 2A on Sept. 20, which will build a trail from Morgan Falls Overlook along Georgia Power and Fulton County easements, across Orkin Lake and along Cimarron Parkway to Roswell Road.
City Council also accepted a $3 million grant from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to help fund the construction. Sustainability Manager Catherine Mercier-Baggett said that the city applied for a Conserve Georgia Grant in October 2021. The Georgia DNR awarded the grant to the city, and it will cover 38.5% of the trail’s construction costs.
If everything works out, construction could begin this month and be completed in October 2023, Perry said.
The city’s goal is to buy as little land as necessary. For this trail section, the city obtained easements and didn’t have to buy any property. Once other people and property owners see this trail constructed, they will understand the city’s intent and that might make obtaining land easier and less expensive, Perry said.
Most of the trail will be a 12-foot wide hard surface. Walkers, runners, bicyclists and people wanting to access the river or Roswell Road will make use of this trail.
“The more trailhead parking opportunities we provide the more people that it will bring in. There’ll be adequate parking at Overlook, there’ll be parking down in the river park, down there by the dog park, we’ll have some parking there,” Perry said. “With more segments will come more trailheads and more access.”
He’s not sure how many acres are between the Edgewater apartments, Orkin Lake and the Chattahoochee River, but it is “a bunch.”
“There are some magnificent tree standings. Magnificent, huge virgin forests,” Perry said. “It’s kind of like Overlook Park – you get out there and you have no idea. You’re a quarter mile from Roswell Road and you have no idea. And you can hear the river. Gorgeous.”
The boardwalk across Orkin Lake will be magnificent, he said.
How much more of the trail is built – and when – comes down to funding availability. The City Council wants to be responsive to the public, he said.
“I’m hoping we build the first segment and it’s a resounding success and it becomes a priority,” Perry said.
PATH 400 construction bids projected in May 2023
PATH 400 will extend the trail from Atlanta north into Sandy Springs, using TPSLOT funds approved by voters in 2016 and federal funds awarded through the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC).
“We have another section here that’s currently in final design and right of way acquisition for that project and it will extend the existing 12-foot path from Lourdes Drive right there in Atlanta, just north of the Glen Ridge Connector,” Sandy Springs spokesperson Dan Coffer said.
This section of the trial will be approximately 2.3 miles long. He said one day it would be nice to have it connect to some of the city’s other paths.
“The longer corridor there, it’s mostly behind neighborhoods and it’s behind a school,” he said. “Pretty tight along there, but we’ve been working with them for several years.”
One access point to PATH 400 in Sandy Springs is Windsor Meadows Park at Windsor Parkway. Another is Ridgeview Park off South Trimble Road.
“It’s adjacent to several neighborhoods along the path is just like it is in Atlanta,” Coffer said. “We met with several neighborhoods when we first kicked off this project, they were ‘Great, when you’re going to open it let us know.’”
The city hopes to open bids in May 2023 for construction.
Sandy Springs looks for any grant opportunities to help fund its trail, Coffer said.