ROSWELL, Ga. — The City of Roswell could receive millions of dollars in aid for an upcoming construction project that has come under fire by residents. 

The City Council voted unanimously Sept. 23 to submit a joint application with the Georgia DOT for an $8 million grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission to help fund major upgrades to South Atlanta Street. 

The grant would help fund the estimated $32 million Historic Gateway Project, which includes eliminating the reversible lane system on South Atlanta Street from the Chattahoochee River to Marietta Highway in favor of a four-lane road with two roundabouts. GDOT is responsible for the project’s construction and is currently in the right-of-way acquisition phase, which is expected to take 18-24 months. 

Safety is one of the driving factors behind the project, said Roswell Director of Transportation Muhammad Rauf. 

The current road has very old equipment, no pedestrian crossings, inadequate bike and pedestrian accommodations, and is one of the most dangerous roads in Roswell, he said. He added that the five-legged intersection of South Atlanta Street, King Street and Chattahoochee Street especially is one of the most dysfunctional in the city and would benefit more from a roundabout than a traffic signal.

The crash numbers from 2007-2009 in the reversible lane corridor are 247 percent higher than statewide averages, Rauf said. 

City Councilman Matt Judy said he was intimately familiar with the danger of South Atlanta Street, stating that a high school friend had been injured because of an accident in the reversible lanes. 

“There’s no choice but to get rid of these lanes,” he said.

Roundabouts are one of the safest traffic improvements the city could make to the corridor, Rauf said.

Discussion on the project took up more than half of the City Council meeting. Most residents who spoke during the meeting opposed the project itself, citing increased thru-traffic and a vanishing tree canopy as their top concerns.

“If we widen it, [traffic] will come,” resident Sally McKenzie said. “We are going to end up with more exhaust and more idling and none of their money… This project is going to take one of our defining features [the tree canopy] away.

Ashok Nagrani, a long-time resident and owner of a shopping center on South Atlanta Street, said the project will be detrimental to businesses along the corridor. 

“You’ll be taking up half of my parking lot during the construction period,” Nagrani said. “Parking, as it is, is the only limiting factor for the restaurant business.” 

Councilman Matthew Tyser said the Sept. 23 City Council vote was on the grant application, not the final design for the Historic Gateway Project.

The project is currently about 60 percent designed, Rauf said.

If the grant application is accepted, the city must chip in a $2 million match for project construction. The Transportation Department is looking for other grants to meet that match, Rauf said.

Also at the Sept. 23 meeting, the City Council approved an application for a $6 million Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank grant for the Big Creek Parkway Project.

For more information, go to roswellgov.com.

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