City Continues to Move Forward on Traffic Solutions

Some people complain about traffic congestion. Others do something about it. The City of Sandy Springs appears to be in the latter category.

A year short of celebrating its 20th anniversary, Sandy Springs can brag that its population has grown to 108,601, making it the state’s sixth largest city, and the second largest city in the metropolitan area. According to a U-Haul International study released a year ago, Sandy Springs is the No. 25 growth city in the country. Between 2000 and 2022, the population jumped by more than 20,000.

That has meant new houses, new condos, new apartment complexes, and more retail options to serve the growing community. And yes, it meant more cars.

There are more than 315 miles of roadways in the Sandy Springs local street network. Some of have become congested over the years.

But the city is in the midst of widening roads, and planning for the future. Since the beginning of this decade, Sandy Springs has been encouraging the public to participate in open house meetings to discuss and learn about proposed improvements to ease traffic congestion in the city.

City of Sandy Springs has focused on traffic problems for years

As far back as 2009, the city started concentrating on several notable traffic problem areas.

Four years ago, it was focused on Hammond Drive from Roswell Road to Glenridge Drive. The city noted that this portion of Hammond Drive lacked sidewalks and marked crosswalks, as well as insufficiently providing for MARTA — all of which led to an increase in neighborhood cut-through traffic, negatively impacting adjacent roadways.

According to the city, based on traffic data collected in 2019, Hammond Drive between Roswell Road and Glenridge Drive carried approximately 17,500 vehicles a day, a higher volume of traffic than the capacity of the two-lane roadway.

To further exacerbate the traffic problem, the city understood that the area of Hammond Drive between Boylston Drive and Glenridge Drive is the narrowest section of Hammond.

In 2022, the city approved continuation of preliminary work on Hammond Drive between Boylston Road and Glenridge Road, to the tune of nearly $3 million.

Sandy Springs seeks funding to complete the Hammond Drive and Boylston Drive intersection project.

Requests for extra funding to finance plans

Then earlier this year the city council agreed to request $2 million from the State Road and Tollway Authority to complete financing of the Boylston/Hammond intersection. The funding would be in the form of a $1.1 million low-interest loan and a $900,000 grant. According to the city council, to be eligible for this funding, projects must enhance movement as well as drive economic development.

The city already has $3.5 million from its capital improvement funds, but the project is expected to cost $5.5 million, to cover the installation of sidewalks and paths and the readjustment of the intersection. The city expects construction to start this summer.

Public Works Director Marty Martin said, “The project will continue to spur economic development by creating a safer transportation environment.” The project includes the widening of Hammond Drive to four lanes. He added that the proposed sidewalk and pathways would contribute to the city’s goal to make the city better for pedestrians as well as bike riders.

Martin said that the city will know whether it will obtain the requested funds by early this summer.

Powers Ferry as city’s western gateway

Then, last August, Sandy Springs residents were apprised of the city’s Powers Ferry Transportation Study whose purpose is to improve pedestrian, bicycle, transit and vehicular travel in an area that “straddles I-285 at Northside Drive and serves as the western gateway” to the city, a report stated. “The area is home to a regional employment center and residential neighborhoods, is served by small scale retail, and provides access to the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.”

According to the report, the study will develop an implementation plan “to move projects and strategies forward. It will further evaluate these improvements and determine the feasibility and costs association with implementation.”

The nine-month study that launched in May last year is supposed to be completed this spring. Throughout the study process, residents have been encouraged to share ideas and provide feedback on the proposed transportation improvements in the area. An open house for the public is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 22, at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

Residents and business owners may come to complain, but the city plans to take those complaints into account as it moves the city forward, both literally and figuratively.