Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect more recent advancements with the Azalea Drive and Riverside Road intersection improvement project.
Roswell Department of Transportation, in conjunction with the Georgia Department of Transportation, is working on removing the reversible lanes along State Route 9, along with fixing traffic problems at the Azalea Drive and Riverside Road intersection. This city-led effort began in 2009.
The proposed project will add a fourth lane to remove the reversible lanes, add two roundabouts to maintain a narrow footprint and provide continuous bicycle and pedestrian accommodations from SR 120 to the Chattahoochee River.
The intersection with Azalea Drive and Riverside Road will be grade-separated, allowing drivers along the riverfront to continue under SR 9 with no signalized intersection.
Renderings are currently underway to better explain to residents what changes will be happening along the corridor.
Georgia DOT has programmed approximately $12 million for right-of-way acquisition and is currently negotiating with property owners along the project.
Because the roads run along the Chattahoochee Forest and River, some trees will need to be cut down for the project to be completed.
"Many of the trees bordering this project have already been adversely impacted over the years by side-trimming procedures for overhead line clearance, trenching and other activities required for installation and maintenance of utilities," Deputy Director of Transportation Dell Ross said. "Many trees along the corridor are in poor health, covered in ivy and showing signs of distress. Very few of the trees that are being impacted by this project are considered specimen trees."
One of the potential plans for the reconstruction would be a pedestrian path along the road, but residents advocated for a gravel bike path through the forest.
However, rumors have spread that the city and National Parks Service are not in connections during this project. Some residents were concerned that Bill Cox, Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area Superintendent, was not contacted during this process.
"I had also been told on several occasions, when advocating for a gravel path that could meander through the woods as an alternative to the concrete path paralleling the curb line, that that was not a possibility because the National Park Service would not allow it," Roswell resident Jason Yowell said. "Bill told us that he was neither consulted nor offered an alternative path concept."
However, Dell-Ross stated that Cox is completely aware of the plans and has been a part of the process.
"Superintendent Bill Cox is fully aware of the impacts of the project and agreed to mitigation requirements with Georgia DOT and the City of Roswell in late 2018," Dell-Ross stated.
"Bill Cox does not support bike trails through the national park," Dell-Ross said. "He doesn't support bike access to the park."
Dell-Ross explained that Cox has never supported bike trails through the national parks, and that none of the national park trails in this unit accommodate bike use.
In addition, the city will be gaining right away from properties in the area.
"I have a commercial strip on south Atlanta street," Ashok Nagrani said. "The plans as they are drawn right now will take about 12 feet of my property and since I only have 1.17 acres, that's gong to have major impact on the future sellability of my property."
According to Dell-Ross the amount of right of way and tress cut varies as the landscape changes. Once the project is complete, residents will be able to ride their bikes from Riverside Park to the Historic Square.
City council approved the memorandum at the July 8 meeting, allowing the project to move to the next step in the process.