NORTH FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — Roswell and Alpharetta residents had a chance recently to learn more and share their views on the latest plans for the state’s $1.6 billion managed lane project on Ga. 400.
The Georgia DOT plans to add two express lanes running in each direction along the thoroughfare from I-285 north 16 miles to McFarland Parkway in Forsyth County. The project is one of 11 initial Major Mobility Investment Programs designed to reduce traffic congestion along major corridors.
MARTA is also tying into the Ga. 400 project to provide rapid transit bus service up and down the corridor to the North Springs rail station in Sandy Springs.
Cities along the route are weighing in on where access points to the express lanes and where bus stations will be placed.
Hundreds of residents attended two open house sessions Feb. 28 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Alpharetta and March 7 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Atlanta in Roswell. Current plans call for two access points to the express lanes in the Alpharetta and Roswell area. Only one of the locations in Alpharetta will provide direct ramp access to and from the express lanes. That interchange, called Webb+, is a special overpass designed for express lane vehicles only and will be located just north of Webb Bridge Road.
The second Alpharetta access point will provide vehicles already on Ga. 400 to cross into the express lanes. That access point is planned just south of Haynes Bridge Road.
Tim Matthews, program manager for GDOT’s Major Mobility Investment Program, said the lane project itself will require some modifications to existing structures along the route:
Widening the bridge over Mansell Road at Ga. 400 and partial reconstruction of ramps.
Haynes Bridge Road bridge over Ga. 400 will require partial ramp reconstruction.
Kimball Bridge Road over Ga. 400 bridge replacement will probably be necessary to accommodate a bus station south of Old Milton Parkway.
Old Milton Parkway over Ga. 400 bridge will require partial reconstruction of ramps.
Webb Bridge Road bridge over Ga. 400 will likely need to be replaced to accommodate the highway widening.
Webb+ will require a new bridge to provide an access point for express lane entrance and exit.
Ga. 400 over Windward Parkway, where the bridge will require widening and partial reconstruction of the ramps.
In Roswell, GDOT has planned one access point to the express lanes, but it will be limited to southbound traffic only. The access will be at the bridge just south of Holcomb Bridge Road.
The state had earlier suggested an access point at the new Big Creek Parkway bridge, but the city rejected that idea.
“We believe the express lanes will improve mobility and decrease congestion along the Ga. 400 corridor,” Matthews said. “Anywhere we’re adding access points to the express lanes in the cities, we’ll study the impact to traffic to those side roads that we’re tying into, and that will help us make that final decision on whether access is a good idea there. But in general, for the corridor itself, we believe that’s the right solution for mitigation of congestion on this corridor.”
Representatives from MARTA were also on hand to discuss their plans along the route. The transit agency intends to operate a fleet of express buses with stops at four locations. Funding for the bus-only access points comes through a $100 million state grant announced last summer. MARTA says it will commit $8 million each year to maintain the buses and stations.
Traci Roberson, project planner for MARTA, said the agency is in the environmental and conception phase of its Ga. 400 service. She also said the bus project remains underfunded to the tune of between $45 million-$129 million. That additional funding, she said, could come from local or state sources or from a federal transit grant.
When operational, the service is designed to provide passengers with station stops every 10 minutes, Roberson said.
Residents can give public comment on the project until Wednesday, March 27 using these methods:
• Online at dot.ga.gov/DS/GEL/SR400
• Online at dot.ga.gov/PS/Public/PublicOutreach
• Mail in a comment card to Eric Duff, Georgia Department of Transportation, 600 West Peachtree St. NW, 16th floor, Atlanta, Georgia 30308
Hardcopies of the project plans and displays used at the open houses are also available on the Alpharetta city website, alpharetta .ga.us/, or in Roswell through Rob Dell-Ross, engineering design manager with the Roswell Transportation Department, 770-594-6420.
So far, Matthews said, the department has been pleasantly surprised about the amount of support they’ve seen from the public about this project.
There will be another round of public information meetings next year after the department has progressed further into the project, Matthews said.