Tibby DeJulio wants to make sure visitors driving through the city of Sandy Springs on Georgia 400 are welcomed with proper signage on the bridges going over the highway.

“I think it’s important to have the logo and have it lighted at night,” the District 5 Sandy Springs City Council member said.

At its Sept. 1 work session, which was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the mayor and council gave their preferences on different design elements for improvements to three bridges crossing 400 as part of that highway’s express lane/bus rapid transit project. The three bridges to be redeveloped are on Spalding Drive, Pitts Road and Roberts Drive.

The city has entered into a memorandum of understanding for $5.5 million with the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) that includes design elements to be paid for by the state, said Marty Martin, the city’s director of public works.

At its May 5 meeting, the council voted 6-0 to approve spending between $7.7 million and $10 million in federal and city funds to improve the three bridges. The $5.5 million is part of the up to $10 million to be spent on the project and would add state funding to it. At the May meeting, DeJulio said the city’s bridges over local highways are often the first impressions visitors get.

“Having spent a lot of time on the road lately going back and forth, the preliminary view people get of Sandy Springs is our bridges on (Interstate) 285 and (Georgia) 400,” he said. “Without a doubt, Sandy Springs has the ugliest bridges available. I’ve been complaining for years to make these bridges more attractive. We tried doing it with (the) Roswell Road (bridge over 285) and it died. I think this is money well spent for Sandy Springs.”

Regarding the city’s logo on the bridges, it could be placed on the center column of each bridge or on the end column, with the end column more expensive because of the base that would have to be built under it.

Most council members said they preferred the end column logo, and DeJulio asked what it would cost the city to have them on each bridge.

“For all three bridges, it could be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars because we’re integrating it into a bridge structure,” Martin said, later adding one could be placed only on the northernmost bridge and possibly another on the southernmost bridge.

Mayor Rusty Paul warned that each sign’s and bridge’s maintenance cost is a major factor to consider as the council chose each design element.

For each bridge’s exterior columns, the council preferred Option 1, which includes tan-colored stacked stone. With the small column and inner barrier wall options, they picked Option 2, which has a stacked-stone small column. For the decorative railings, Option 6, which is more expensive and has a wave-like design similar to the city’s logo, and with no trellis, were preferred. With the cross-street names, the extended lettering won over the indented lettering.

“One of the challenges with the indented letter is stuff gets stuck in there,” District 1 Councilman John Paulson said. “The extended one gets washed clean every time it rains.”

While the council’s design preferences aren’t final, they needed to be selected at the work session because the city was “asked to get some details to GDOT now,” Martin said.

When asked by council members if the bridge enhancements could be replicated on other bridges crossing 400 and 285, he said yes. But Paul added any newly built or reconstructed bridge likely wouldn’t qualify.

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