ROSWELL, Ga. — After months of consideration, Roswell has nailed down plans for the final leg of Big Creek Parkway.
The proposed alignment, with a price tag of just over $44 million, is one of Roswell’s largest transportation projects to date and will create a new east-west connector over Ga. 400. Funding comes from the transportation sales tax passed by voters in 2016.
The Roswell City Council unanimously approved the new alignment plans at its Sept. 9 meeting. Councilman Marcelo Zapata was not in attendance.
Big Creek Parkway was proposed nearly 10 years ago as an alternative east-west route across Ga. 400 that would relieve pressure along Holcomb Bridge Road. Since then, the city has had to adjust to changing plans for Ga. 400 by the Georgia DOT, said Deputy Director of Roswell Transportation Rob Dell-Ross.
Plans for Big Creek Parkway were initially set in two phases: Phase 1 to primarily widen Warsaw Road and add turn lanes, and Phase 2 to create a route from Warsaw Road east over Ga. 400 and then connecting to Holcomb Bridge Road. Phase 1 is already underway with construction set for spring.
An opportunity arises
Earlier this year, the city approached GDOT about a potential partnership —including funding — to redesign and replace the interchange at Holcomb Bridge Road and Ga. 400 as part of the state’s new express lane project on Ga. 400. The interchange redesign incorporates new measures to improve traffic on Holcomb Bridge through the area.
GDOT’s express lane project is moving forward at a fast pace, and state officials asked Roswell to come to a decision by Sept. 9, Mayor Lori Henry said.
To free up money for the partnership, Roswell devised a plan that could save millions on Big Creek Parkway. Those savings would then be funneled into the interchange project with GDOT.
It all hinged on a redesign of Big Creek Parkway.
What the city has decided on is a plan that modifies the original design with a longer, less-direct route from Warsaw Road, east over Ga. 400, to Old Alabama Road. The route would still support about the same amount of traffic as the earlier plan, and is estimated to save the city $12 million. Those savings can now go to support the interchange collaboration.
The modified Big Creek Parkway route, approved Sept. 9, would also reduce wetland impact and residential displacement.
More importantly, the revised plan also includes a project to connect Warsaw Road to Old Holcomb Bridge Road. That spur comes with a $5 million price tag, most of it for property acquisition. Dell-Ross said the department is actively seeking grants to reduce costs to the city.
Henry reported that GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry said he was committed and confident he can help Roswell find funding for the Warsaw connection.
“We do have other funding opportunities for Warsaw Road,” she said. “The state of Georgia has been a very, very good partner in this project.”
The City Council vote combined what had been Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the same project.
Dell-Ross said work on Phase 2 is already underway.
Hausmann praises vote
Fulton County Commissioner Liz Hausmann, who represents East Roswell, thanked the City Council for considering the alignment changes and urged the city to pass it.
“This is an important, generational decision that affects not only Roswell but the entire region,” she said.
While some citizens agreed, others were not happy with the plans.
Keith Goeke, along with other residents, said the new plans will break citizens’ trust of their city because they vary too much from the plans presented to voters in the sales tax referendum.
“You encouraged citizen action and engagement,” Goeke said. “The citizens voted for the original project, but somehow, you’ve chosen not to listen to them in that regard and change the focus of the project. How does that foster or promote citizen engagement?... What happens the next time you put a project in front of the citizens to vote on, but they have no confidence that you’ll even listen?”
Other residents criticized the longer, less-direct path of the new alignment.
The mayor responded that the scope of the project has always been to relieve congestion on Holcomb Bridge Road. She said that while the path has been adjusted because of a new situation, the project still achieves that goal and saves money that could be used to work with GDOT to improve the Ga. 400 interchange.
“In all honesty, I will tell you that it would be criminal for this council not to look at the new situation that we have on our hands,” Henry said. “That’s what we’ve been looking at. We’ve been working very hard with GDOT to come up with a solution.”