ROSWELL, Ga. — Roswell is at a crossroads with one of the largest transportation projects it has ever undertaken: Big Creek Parkway.
The $58.5 TSPLOST project, approved by voters November 2016, would improve connectivity and reduce congestion along Holcomb Bridge Road by constructing another road that crosses Ga. 400 with an overpass. City staff is now pouring over two potential options for the project, and on Aug. 8, held an open house to present them to the public. Hundreds of residents met at City Hall to give their thoughts on the designs.
Roughly 70,000 vehicles use the Holcomb Bridge Road and Ga. 400 interchange each day. A new two-lane road just to the north would help reduce that number by about 8-10 thousand vehicles, Deputy Director of Transportation Rob Dell-Ross said.
“Is building Big Creek going to solve Holcomb Bridge? Absolutely not,” Dell-Ross said. “Traffic on Holcomb Bridge is going to be here as long as the foreseeable future. What Big Creek does is it is a backdoor to Holcomb Bridge. It’s a way for resident to get from one side of the city to another without having to interact with that interchange. Because the ramps at Ga. 400 is what creates the congestion.”
He added that Big Creek Parkway will play a similar role to Alpharetta’s Encore Parkway.
The original alignment plans for Big Creek Parkway were approved by the Roswell City Council in 2013.
However, earlier this year, Roswell came up with a plan that could save millions on Big Creek Parkway and funnel that savings to improve traffic flow at the Holcomb Bridge Road and Ga. 400 interchange.
The city approached GDOT about a potential partnership to redesign and replace the interchange as part of the state’s Ga. 400 express lane project.
With a potential partnership on the table, Roswell City Council asked staff to come up with a way to save TSPLOST money on Big Creek and, as a result, staff proposed the current modified version, Dell-Ross said.
The modification would still handle about the same amount of traffic, save the city $17 million — which could be put toward the partnership with GDOT — and reduce wetland impact and residential displacement. Regardless of which plan the city moves forward with, Roswell would still provide bike lanes, sidewalks and multi-use trails on the new road.
“GDOT’s express lanes project, building two lanes in each direction, is moving forward completely separate from our Big Creek Project,” Dell-Ross said. “Arguably, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s hard to imagine we’re ever going to have another opportunity like that. Do we want to find a way to make that partnership work?”
The answer to that question is time sensitive. The city has been talking with the state about the project for years now, and it has less than a year to decide on a partnership with GDOT, he added.
The original planned alignment includes two phases.
Plans for Phase 1 have already begun and include widening Warsaw Road from two to four lanes and adding second left-turn lanes at the Holcomb Bridge Road and Warsaw Road intersection. Construction is expected to begin on that portion in early 2020.
“It’s a much-needed intersection improvement,” Dell-Ross said. “It will help solve a lot of the existing congestion issues we have out there right now.”
Phase 2 has two options — the original and the revised plan.
The first option, the original alignment, includes a new two-lane road from Warsaw Road east over Ga. 400 to Old Alabama Road. It also includes a new two-lane connection road from Big Creek Parkway south to Old Holcomb Bridge Road.
Other improvements include a roundabout on Warsaw Road at the new Big Creek Parkway and a complete street on Holcomb Woods Parkway, east of Old Alabama Road.
The newly proposed plan calls for using the existing Old Holcomb Bridge Road to make a new connection west over Ga. 400 to Old Alabama Road on the east. The entire road would be a complete street. But, unlike the original plan, the new route would connect to Holcomb Bridge Road on the west side of Ga. 400, instead of Warsaw Road.
The new proposal will decrease Holcomb Bridge traffic by 10 percent more than the original plan and will provide several options for future upgrades and connections, including a tie to Warsaw Road, Dell-Ross said.
The original alignment plans would create a shorter route but is $15-$20 million more expensive than the proposed alignment, in part because it goes through 8-10 apartment buildings that would be expensive for the city to acquire. The original plan also includes an expensive bridge over wetlands, while the proposed alignment reduces impacts on the wetlands, Dell-Ross said.
The Roswell City Council has not made any formal decisions about the next steps for Big Creek Parkway. They were scheduled to discuss the project and potential options at an Aug. 12 work session.