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Sandy Springs explores radical road designs to address traffic

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From turning intersections into bridges to express lanes on Ga. Highway 400, city weighs array of options

A conventional intersection with a bridge on top to carry through-traffic.
A two-level intersection, like one proposed in Sandy Springs to alleviate traffic.
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Sandy Springs — the most populous city in the metro, excluding Atlanta — has a reputation for thinking outside the box when it comes to the future of transportation.

At a recent planning retreat, the mayor and city council were treated to an array of off-the-wall ideas to combat traffic in the city, with some suggestions trending into the realm of “insane,” as one council member is quoted in Reporter Newspapers as saying.

Many of the initiatives focus on the heavily trafficked Perimeter Center area, which has seen a staggering rise in both residential and office development in the last decade. From 2004 to 2014, the amount of people both living and working in Perimeter Center increased 119 percent, which theoretically should help alleviate traffic; but in the same period, the number of people living in Perimeter Center and working elsewhere increased even more — by 153 percent.

Womp, womp.

Proposals that came up at the meeting included adding four managed lanes to Interstate 285 and Ga. Highway 400. Since they’re not part of the nearly $1 billion new interchange of the two roadways, the lanes could be added at a later time, the newspaper reported.

Near the interchange, Mount Vernon Road could be widened, a study suggested. But rather than conventional lanes, multi-modal lanes allowing buses and other forms of transit to run freely along the east-west connector between downtown Sandy Springs and the city’s eponymous MARTA station were proposed.

The proposed multi-modal lanes on Mount Vernon Road.
Sandy Springs via Reporter Newspapers

Another proposed link to transit calls for a bridge to connect the UPS world headquarters, the new Mercedes-Benz Headquarters and surrounding new residential developments to the North Springs MARTA Station. While the bridge is likely a long way off, the goal would be to provide direct vehicular and pedestrian access from the new hub at Glenridge to transit.

Quite possibly the most far-fetched proposal — and the one that met with the most skepticism from the council — was to transform the busy intersection of Roswell Road and Abernathy Road by building a bridge to allow for free flow of traffic. Traffic planners recommended elevating four lanes of Abernathy Road over Roswell Road at a cost of nearly $50 million.

Traffic solutions proposed for a bridge to the North Springs MARTA Station (left) and the Roswell-Abernathy intersection (right).
Sandy Springs via Reporter Newspapers

One councilmember was reportedly quick to point out the investment would be more to the benefit of Cobb commuters — not really something Sandy Springs is in to.

Other, less outlandish items discussed included a long-planned dual-roundabout near City Springs and a possible roundabout on Riverside Drive.

There’s no guarantee any of the ideas will ultimately be realized, but it’s pretty clear Sandy Springs will leave no stone unturned.