The city of Sandy Springs has released its proposed projects for the second transportation special-purpose local-option sales tax (TSPLOST 2), and the widening of Hammond Drive is by far the highest-priced item, weighing in at $38.5 million.
“This will take it from two lanes to four lanes,” Allen Johnson, the city’s TSPLOST program manager, said of the plan to widen the road from Boylston Drive to Glenridge Drive and add roundabouts, side-paths and streetscape improvements.
Johnson unveiled the city’s TSPLOST 2 proposed project list at the Sandy Springs City Council’s April 20 work session at City Springs. It was the council’s first in-person meeting since Nov. 17, when the city opted to return to virtual meetings due to a rise in COVID-19 cases.
TSPLOST 1, a five-year, 1% Fulton County tax that provides funds for both city- and transit/MARTA-related transportation projects, ends in March. TSPLOST 2, which would last another five years, must be placed on the November election ballot and be approved via a voter referendum for it to start the day after the first TSPLOST stops. Each city in the county will submit its own project list for the developments its share of the tax will pay for.
TSPLOST 2, which like TSPLOST 1 has a separate tax for the city of Atlanta, is expected to generate $525 million for Fulton’s other cities, with Sandy Springs’ share estimated at $96.5 million, Johnson said. The Fulton tax likely will include a 0.75% levy for the county’s cities and possibly up to 0.25% for a transit/MARTA component.
Johnson has said the cities must develop their project lists by May and then adopt them by June 15. From there, intergovernmental agreements must be signed by July 2 and forwarded to the Fulton elections superintendent by Aug. 2 so TSPLOST 2 could go on the Nov. 2 ballot.
To gain public input on its projects, Sandy Springs is hosting two virtual open house meetings April 26 (at 11:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.) and will also solicit public comment at the Sandy Springs Farmers Market May 1 and 8.
“We’ll bring it to the regular council (meeting for a vote) on June 1,” Mayor Rusty Paul said.
TSPLOST 1 includes six Tier 1 projects, five Tier 2 projects and one Tier 3 project. Under the city’s proposal, TSPLOST 2 calls for Tier 1 (85% collections) to be $82.0 million, Tier 2 (100%) at $96.6 million and Tier 3 (150%) at $1111.1 million.
In addition to Hammond, TSPLOST 2 includes eight Tier 1 planned projects: the bridge program ($6.1 million), the intelligent transportation system program ($2.4 million), sidewalk program ($12.1 million), Johnson Ferry at Peachtree Dunwoody roads improvements ($3.3 million), the Roswell Road north boulevard project ($9.7 million), Georgia 400 multiuse trail ($4.4 million), Glenridge Drive work from Hammond Drive to south of Wellington Trace ($2.8 million) and Boylston Drive side-path and realignment ($3.0 million).
There are three Tier 2 projects – Roberts Drive side-path from Roswell Road to Dunwoody Place ($11 million), Johnson Ferry Road side-path from Glenridge Drive to Peachtree Dunwoody Road ($3 million) and Lake Forrest sidewalk ($500,000) – and one Tier 3 project: roadway maintenance and paving ($14.5 million).
District 6 Councilman Andy Bauman took issue with the Roswell Road north boulevard project, saying it may deserve to be demoted to Tier 2.
“It seems to be a piecemeal plan, and we have so many projects already, when we have other projects that can be a real difference-maker,” he said, adding more trails and/or sidewalks connecting residents on the southwest side of the city in his district would be better.
But District 1 Councilman John Paulson, whose district is bisected by Roswell Road, disagreed, saying the boulevard project is needed to help revitalize the city’s north end, a long-term initiative.
“This boulevard would have nice continuity with Dunwoody Place,” Paulson said. “… I think this is a good project. But for what it’s worth, I ask anyone to weigh in on these projects.”
Some council members said they were pleased to see some of the city’s multiuse trails and side-paths included in the TSPLOST 2 project list since Sandy Springs has been planning to add them for years.
Paul clarified that the city uses the term “side-paths” for some trail projects so they fit into the context of the state Legislature’s law governing TSPLOST. Johnson said the city also has received $6 million in federal funding, via the Atlanta Regional Commission, to use on these and other transportation projects.
Both he and Paul said the city will continue to ask for more federal funds in the future, with the mayor adding President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan could include monies for Sandy Springs.
For more information on TSPLOST 2, visit spr.gs/TSPLOST2021.