ALPHARETTA, Ga. – The results of the Envision Main Street design survey are about what one can expect – Ga. 9/ Main Street/Alpharetta Highway is too congested and largely an eyesore with poor pedestrian facilities.
That was the report from TSW and Associates, the community planning and design firm that was tasked with coming up with a design after holding several public meetings.
When asked what words came to mind when residents thought of Ga. 9 – both good and bad – by far the single most common phrase was “congested.”
Other words for the way it is now included “busy,” “crowded” and “ugly.” The public said they wanted it to be a vibrant, friendly and inviting destination. However, they were divided on how they wanted to address the issue.
“Their findings were by no means a mandate,” said Alpharetta Community Development Director Richard McLeod at the April 22 Alpharetta City Council meeting.
Slightly over 50 percent of the respondents of the survey wanted to expand Ga. 9 to a four-lane road the length of the survey area – from Old Milton Parkway to Windward Parkway. This would allow for better traffic flow as well as increased landscaping, including trees, along the length of Ga. 9. This is in contrast to the slight minority view that there is too much traffic and the street should be reduced to two lanes. This would give more space for additional greenspace.
“By reducing capacity, we may make a somewhat challenging situation worse,” McLeod said.
Instead, council looked at widening the road to four lanes, largely in keeping within the right-of-way, by turning current turn lanes into through lanes and narrowing the width of lanes. A center median would be put in only as segments – “islands” – that would allow traffic to turn into its destinations with ease, such as with subdivision neighborhoods in Ga. 9.
Trees, lawn and other greenspace would be added down the median and along the sides of the streets, with either sidewalks or multi-use paths on either side.
The city will present these ideas to the Georgia Department of Transportation in hopes they will be incorporated into the plans for the area. GDOT and the federal government have $70 million set aside for the area. If all parties agree on the direction of the designs, construction on the new Ga. 9 could begin in 2019.
“This is an opportunity to put significant capital into making it beautiful and something that people will want to travel on,” said Mayor David Belle Isle. “We can make it something that is not just a functional road. It’s a goal.”
Council voted unanimously to approve the proposed designs and to work with GDOT to make it happen.
This article was published in the Revue & News April 25, 2013 edition