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Perimeter cities appeal to GDOT for multi-use trail space in interstate expansion plans

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Brookhaven has launched a study to determine the feasibility of a trail network near Interstate 285

A rendering shows in purple the new express lanes weaving through the existing infrastructure.
Plans for where the Perimeter meets Ga. Highway 400—i.e., Spaghetti Junction 2.
Georgia Department of Transportation, via YouTube

As Georgia Department of Transportation officials work on a multi-billion highway expansion project that should produce, among other facets, new express lanes along the north side of Interstate 285, some Perimeter cities are wondering if the state agency might be willing to leave room for alternative transportation infrastructure.

After all, once this coronavirus pandemic is contained, metro Atlantans could reform their commuting practices, some observers have said, potentially easing the burden historically placed on our interstate systems.

So why not leave space for a multi-use trail network in GDOT’s I-285 Top End Express Lanes Project?

That’s what officials in Brookhaven, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, Chamblee, Doraville, Smyrna, and Tucker are wondering, according to Reporter Newspapers.

The City of Brookhaven, in fact, has issued a request for proposals for a “Top End 285 Regional Trails Master Plan,” the publication reported.

Officials from involved cities understand the funding for such an endeavor would have to come locally—from regional or municipal sources—and GDOT isn’t opposed to the idea.

A GDOT spokesperson told Reporter Newspapers the agency is willing to consider the results of Brookhaven’s feasibility research.

GDOT has also said it aims to ensure the express lanes project doesn’t derail existing plans for trail development, such as a proposed northward extension of PATH400 or Dunwoody’s Georgetown Trail.

The window to submit plans for Brookhaven’s RFP, which calls for new, non-automotive connections to major jobs, retail, and recreational destinations, closes April 21.

Construction of the express lanes project beyond the Ga. Highway 400 area isn’t expected to kick off until at least 2022.