ALPHARETTA, Ga. — City officials are reviewing the latest concept plans for the Alpha Loop, Alpharetta’s $30 million double pedestrian beltway surrounding the business district.
At a special City Council workshop Nov. 16, Darren Meyer, principal with lead consultant MKSK Studios, presented plans for connecting sections of the loop near North Point Mall. The proposals were based on surveys from residents and property owners, and state and regional transportation agencies.
The first public input meeting was held online and drew 300 responses, plus several thousand views on the webpage, Meyer said.
In addition to the online survey, the firm also conducted an intercept survey with more than 1,400 mailers to stakeholders, residents and businesses adjacent to the project. Meyer said consultants met with community members in person at Morrison Lake in late July.
The Alpha Loop consists of two ringed trails. Work on the 5.5-mile outer loop — running from downtown east to Avalon, then south to Northwinds — has yet to begin. But the 3.3-mile inner loop is well underway.
One key to the project is the alignment as the trail runs along Ga. 400 and crosses Haynes Bridge Road near the expressway’s southbound ramp.
Based on feedback from surveys, consultants explored two options.
The first calls for modifying the existing crosswalk to provide for greater pedestrian traffic at the interchange. One of the key elements, Meyer said, would be to synchronize signals and disallow right turns on red lights.
Councilman Ben Burnett said he opposed any plan that might include having pedestrians wait on an island mid-way through Haynes Bridge Road. The site of the proposed trail crossing, he said, covers eight lanes, including the turn lanes.
“I don’t want to strand anybody in the middle of eight lanes of traffic,” Burnett said. “That’s not safe.”
Meyer said his team looked at placing the crossing farther west at Lakeview Parkway. They also looked at a bridge crossing. Both concepts, he said, were unfeasible in terms of cost.
Consultants also studied a tunnel concept that calls for a 16-foot-wide channel that would include a 2-foot strip for bicyclists. The tunnel, as planned, would not be compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act because ramp installations require significantly more property, Meyer said.
“This is a solution that we have used in other communities, where you have an ADA-compliant at-grade (surface) crossing, and a non-[ADA]compliant tunnel,” Meyer said. “These were the two options that we presented publicly, along with notes about the bridge and the Lakeview crossing.”
The estimated cost of the tunnel is $7.5 million, and the enhanced surface crosswalk carries an estimated cost of $1.75 million.
By way of comparison, the Big Creek Greenway tunnel under Windward Parkway, now in the final stages of construction, carries a price tag of $1.5 million. Alpharetta Public Works Director Pete Sewczwicz said the proposed Haynes Bridge tunnel would be about twice as long as the Windward tunnel.
Another part of the overall Alpha Loop plan includes expanding the width of the mixed-use trail on the east side of Encore Parkway to 12 feet to incorporate the northbound bike lane. Right now, cyclists have a 4-foot section of the roadway for travel, and the sidewalks are 8 feet wide.
The trail widening to accommodate bicyclists would run in the neighborhood of $3.4 million.
Other elements presented at the work session include:
- North Point Center East — Add a 12-foot multi-use path by reducing the roadway to accommodate only one lane of traffic. The road currently has two travel lanes with turn lanes at each of the access points into the mall.
- Big Creek Greenway — Plans call for the trail along Encore Parkway to cross North Point Parkway, using separate pedestrian and bicycle crossing. The path would then continue east, possibly into a small “gateway park” to tie into the trailhead for the Big Creek Greenway.