Roswell Department of Transportation and the Georgia Department of Transportation are in the process of improving safety and traffic flow along Highway 9/Atlanta Street and Azalea Drive as part of the Historic Gateway Project.
The project began focusing on Highway 9 in 2009 and was created to remove the reversible lanes along Highway 9/Atlanta Street to replace them with a four lane street.
Over the past 10 years, the city has been working to get the project where it is now. The final project design is underway, and GDOT is in the process of acquiring the right of way necessary for the plan’s completion.
The project is a context sensitive design project, meaning the design is tailored to the community it’s in, whether that be for aesthetics, city priority or footprint.
The city is also required to follow the National Environmental Policy Act, where it must look at surrounding wetlands, cultural structures, air and noise impacts and much more.
Roswell Department of Transportation has to provide documents showing that they have studied these impacts.
“We’re at the point in the project where we’ve been doing a lot of studies and a lot of research field work and we know what those impacts are at this point, and we know the severity of those impacts,” Deputy Director of Transportation Rob Dell-Ross said.
The reversible lanes were added in the 1970s, but have proven to be one of the most dangerous corridors in the state.
Between 2015 and 2018, there were 698 crashes, 181 injuries and one fatality at this site. This corridor experienced 247% more crashes from 2007 to 2009 than the statewide average.
Because the road is a state road, the city of Roswell is working closely with GDOT. Roswell is in charge of the engineering and design, including any and all design components. The state is responsible for the right of way acquisitions, funded by approximately $12 million. Dell-Ross says that the state is 12 months into negotiating with the landowners along the project line.
According to Dell-Ross, land owners along the project line have been aware and involved with the project. The Atlanta Street Baptist Church is one of the properties that will be affected by the project, and has participated in public meetings. Staff has also met with Pastor Caldwell and church members to update them about the project.
All 62 property owners were also personally invited to meet and discuss project plans with RDOT and GDOT in April 2018.
Two roundabouts will also be installed to allow the road’s footprint to be as narrow as possible and to increase safety measures. According to the Federal Highway Administration, roundabouts reduce crashes with fatalities or sever injuries by 78 to 82%.
The footprint of the roundabouts would be wider if the city did not have roundabouts because there would be turn lanes, Dell-Ross says. However, staff stresses the the highest priority for this project is safety.
“It’s a very dangerous corridor and it’s an extremely difficult project, and there are a lot of impacts,” Dell-Ross said. “I understand why people are concerned, but for me as an engineer and us as a city, leaving it like it is is not an option.”
Renderings of the project will be released in August. Construction could begin as early as 2021 depending on GDOT funding.