ROSWELL, Ga. — The Roswell City Council will vote soon on whether to spend up to $2.7 million on aesthetics for two bridges that will cross Ga. 400.

If the City Council votes to exclude some options, such as pedestrian lighting, now, it may not get another chance down the road. 

Whether to add enhancements to the two bridges stems from a memorandum of understanding the city signed with GDOT earlier this year to share costs for the Holcomb Bridge Road and Ga. 400 interchange improvements. As part of the agreement, the city must pay for all aesthetic improvements and provide GDOT with direction for the aesthetics for the interchange bridge. The city will also give details about the future GDOT express lanes bridge that will cross Ga. 400 to the south of the existing bridge. 

Council members met Nov. 20 at a Community Development and Transportation Committee meeting to discuss the bridge aesthetic options, which may include elements such as railing, pedestrian lighting, landscaping and sidewalks. 

To implement the elements successfully, GDOT must know about them soon for inclusion in its design plans, said Director of Transportation Muhammad Rauf

The city must shell out $2.7 million along with the list of plans by Dec. 9 to comply with GDOT’s timeline. 

More options and upkeep would cost the city more, but can be decided upon later, Rauf said.  

“[The $2.7 million] shows the intent that yes we want to do it all,” Rauf said. “And we may have the option to negotiate and work with GDOT.”

The city may lower costs by removing some of the aesthetic options, such as pedestrian lighting. But if the city removes that option now, it wouldn’t be available again later, Rauf said.

As part of the decision-making process, the city conducted an online survey that netted close to 1,000 responses. That count is “many, many times” more than what the city usually sees in similar in-person meetings, Rauf said.

Survey results showed that the vast majority of residents agreed bridge aesthetics are somewhat or very important, and nearly three-fourths agreed Roswell should make a similar investment like Alpharetta’s $4 million aesthetic upgrades for the Encore Parkway bridge.

“I think the citizens have spoken pretty clearly what they’d like,” said Councilman Matthew Tyser. “Our challenge is to stay as flexible as we can possibly be and then go back to our citizens and ask them how much they really want.

He said that at this stage, it’s important to keep all the options open.

Councilman Marcelo Zapata said he would like the city to distinguish between essential elements needed for operational or safety reasons — such as railing — and purely aesthetic elements that could be added later. 

Tyser said that to comply with GDOT’s timeline, it is more important to focus on and discuss what can be done with the $2.7 million before looking at the details of the aesthetic design. 

The City Council voted unanimously to bring the discussion to the Dec. 9 City Council meeting and to hold a work session before then to discuss whether or not to lower the $2.7 million price tag by excluding aesthetic options.

Mayor Lori Henry and council members Matt Judy and Mike Palermo were not in attendance for the vote.

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