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VIDEO: Construction on Roswell, Ga.'s $58M Historic Gateway Project Delayed Again

Tue August 23, 2022 - Southeast Edition
Atlanta Journal-Constitution



A project to widen a dangerous road in Roswell, Ga., has increased in cost, and the start of its construction has been delayed three more years, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Aug. 22.

The work to expand a stretch of Ga. Highway 9/Atlanta Street, also known as the Historic Gateway Project, in north Fulton County, now is expected to begin in spring 2026, Julie Brechbill, a spokesperson of the city of Roswell, told the capitol city news outlet.

The effort would widen the road from three to four lanes and include roundabouts and new turn lanes extending from the Chattahoochee River north to Marietta Highway at Roswell Square.

The Gateway project has been the source of frustration for residents and local officials for more than a decade, following its approval by the Roswell City Council in 2012. The Ga. 9/Atlanta Street corridor also is a busy commuter artery with a reversible center lane used to travel further into north Fulton or south into Sandy Springs to access Ga. 400, the newspaper noted.

Roswell residents complain that much of the gridlock is the result of motorists using the road from Cobb County as an alternative route.

In speaking with the Journal-Constitution, people who live in Roswell, including those on a newly formed Transportation Advisory Commission, said they welcome road improvements but disagree with project designs for the state road.

The current $58 million cost for the Gateway project has increased $5 million since 2020, according to the newspaper.

The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) is funding 70 percent of the costs for engineering, property acquisitions, utility work and construction.

Roswell's part comes to $13 million but Brechbill said, "There could be redesign and potentially construction cost increases [and] substantial project delays with major changes in the project concept."

The city is paying for aesthetics, some of the design and work that will take place within the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area section of the project. A total of $2 million will be Roswell's match in securing an $8 million grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission.

Gateway Project to Focus on Improving Driver Safety

The Ga. 9/Atlanta Street corridor is lined with both small businesses and a thick canopy of trees. Under the current project design, GDOT construction requires clearing 40 to 60 ft. of space and the acquisition of 67 parcels of land that include some business properties and the removal of trees.

Only 12 of the land parcels needed had been acquired by GDOT as of early August, according to Brechbill, and seven condemnations were pending.

She added that the transportation agency is considering reducing the planned width of the new traffic lanes to 10.5-ft. from 11-ft.-wide between Warm Springs Circle and Marietta Highway at Roswell's request.

City Councilman Mike Palermo explained that wider traffic lanes should make Ga. 9/Atlanta Street a more attractive cut-through choice for motorists who do not live in Roswell.

"The focus really should be for the safety of Roswell residents," Palermo said in speaking to the Journal-Constitution. "I would certainly like to see [the project done] on a smaller scale. I'm certainly hoping we can … reduce some of the pavement."

Georgia 9/Atlanta Street's reversible lanes begin at an unsafe intersection where Roswell borders Sandy Springs at Roswell Road, Azalea Drive and Riverside Road. The junction, located at one end of the Roswell Road bridge over the Chattahoochee River, has often been the site of vehicle collisions.

Data from Roswell officials shows there were 698 accidents on Atlanta Street from 2015-18. One of those caused a fatality, and 23 involved head-on collisions.

Redesign Could Sharply Cut Number of Accidents

The Historic Gateway Project, though, is designed to mitigate those problems on Ga. 9.

At the route's four-way intersection, access to Azalea Drive from any direction on Roswell Road or Ga.9/Atlanta Street will require motorists to turn onto Riverside Road and continue to a new roundabout that would turn them back toward Azalea. In addition, drivers turning left onto Riverside Road from Atlanta Street will have less of a wait at the traffic light signal than they do today, Roswell officials said in describing the construction.

A second bridge over the Chattahoochee River also will be added beside the current Roswell Road bridge to help right turns to be made easier onto Riverside Road and Azalea Drive.

However, George Vail, a member of the local Transportation Advisory Commission, is recommending a modification to the design that removes the four-way intersection's traffic signal in favor of building only dedicated right lanes from each corner, which would cut the planned left turns from Ga. 9/Atlanta Street to Riverside Road.

"The beautiful Greenway [multi-use path] that we have coming up from the [Roswell Road] bridge is going to be gone," Vail warned during a July commission meeting. "It's going to be blown out."

This conceptual rendering, showing the view looking north towards Barrington Hall and Historic Square, is based on the engineering design of September 2019. (Image courtesy of Roswellgov.com)




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