Cities hope for facelift of Highway 9

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MILTON – The city of Milton will apply for a grant to redevelop the Highway 9 corridor.

At the Dec. 6 council meeting, City Planner Michele McIntosh-Ross presented the proposal to be submitted to the Atlanta Regional Commission’s “Livable Centers Initiative,” or LCI. If awarded, the ARC will conduct a study on improving Highway 9 to make it more pedestrian friendly.

The proposal includes Highway 9 in Milton and Alpharetta from Mayfield Road in the south up to Bethany Bend in the north. It will also include a portion of Webb Road.

The purpose of LCI studies are to “promote quality growth in communities and to encourage mixed uses and connectivity,” said McIntosh-Ross.

The entire cost of the study is $150,000. If awarded, the federal government would contribute $120,000 and Milton would pay the remaining $30,000.

A portion of Highway 9 in Alpharetta is included in the proposal.

“We’re looking for a study to show us some guidance on redevelopment opportunities for properties along Highway 9, how that should happen, what shape that should take, what parts should be public-private,” explained Diana Wheeler, the director of community development for Alpharetta. “South of Mayfield Road, we have the historic downtown. That has a distinct character, a certain flavor and we’ve identified features of that and the characteristics of that area. But north of that, we don’t really have a game plan for redevelopment.”

The hope is the LCI will provide that game plan.

While a portion of the road in Alpharetta is included in the proposal, the city of Alpharetta will not contribute to the cost of the LCI study. McIntosh-Ross said there are several reasons for this – first, the city simply had not budgeted for such a study; second, only a small section of the entire project is within Alpharetta’s borders; third, with Milton bearing the full cost, it can handle the administration of the project.

Perhaps the most important reason is that the ARC encourages and looks favorably on cities working together. By including the neighboring city’s name on the application, it improves Milton’s chances of getting the funds to help pay for the study.

“The ARC always likes when communities do joint projects and there is joint cooperation,” said McIntosh-Ross. “We get extra points from the ARC for that.”

Along with beautifying the corridor, city planners hope to lower the speed limit on the road to 35 mph.

However, being a state route, the final say lies with the Georgia Department of Transportation, which is notoriously hard to sway in arguments for slowing traffic down.

“When you have a plan in place, like Alpharetta and other places have, [GDOT] looks at pedestrian facilities and streetscape, and they would listen to that point and entertain the idea,” said McIntosh-Ross.

That does not mean GDOT will agree to it, only that they might be more open to it. A plan will be submitted suggesting a 35-mph speed limit, but if the new speed is not approved by GDOT, a backup plan will also be submitted.

Fulton County