Like some of his neighbors, Sean Cope doesn’t want the city of Sandy Springs to build a roundabout at the Mount Paran Road-Powers Ferry Road intersection.
“Two years ago, how I was informed of this project was when the city planner and the city attorney showed up (at) my house and I walked outside and asked, ‘Is there something I could help you with?’ They said, ‘No, we’re looking at just putting in a traffic circle here to improve traffic,’” said Cope, who lives on the northwest corner of the intersection, which has a four-way stop sign.
“I started walking around the property with the city attorney, and he said, ‘You know, this turn lane is part of your property. The easement on the turn lane wasn’t done correctly years ago, and if something happens with this turn lane, you’re responsible for it.’ I almost felt threatened from the initial understanding of what was potentially happening.”
Cope was one of five residents who spoke out against the project at the April 2 Sandy Springs City Council meeting at City Springs, urging the council to scrap it. Though the roundabout was not on the meeting’s agenda, it’s at top of mind for residents living at or near the intersection because the project is in the right-of-way phase since portions of each resident’s properties in the intersection will be acquired by the city for it.
According to documents on the city’s website, the $1.8 million roundabout will be paid for by transportation special-purpose local-option sales tax (TSPLOST) funds approved by voters in November 2016. The project’s design was approved by the council in March 2017, two months after the city hosted an open house on the issue, where plans for both a roundabout option and a traffic signal option were presented.
Lee Hunter, who lives on Laurel Chase Court off Mount Paran, said most of the individuals who attended that meeting voted for the intersection to be left alone instead of opting for a traffic light or roundabout.
After the roundabout plan was favored by those at the meeting, it was also preferred by a city consultant after conducting a traffic study. However, the traffic study is not viewable on the city’s website.
The roundabout’s full design was passed by the council in February 2018. Following the right-of-way phase, utility relocation is expected to begin this fall, with construction planned to start in spring 2020.
At the council meeting, residents complained about vehicles speeding through the intersection and/or the roads near it but also griped about the lack of notice they received regarding the project and its “ugly,” non-landscaped design that doesn’t fit in with the neighborhood, and said the roundabout may only shift traffic to the next stop sign on Mount Paran.
“The first I heard about the project was when I saw survey flags at the corners,” said David Steinfeld, who lives on Powers Ferry just north of the intersection. “My neighbor, who has a construction easement stake, never got a notice as well. So I’m wondering why there wasn’t more notice up and down Powers Ferry, Mount Paran and Dudley (Lane), which are all effectively stakeholders.
“The increase in volume of trucks down those streets, (which) are even narrower than ours, has a lot of impact. It’s also was there was a lot of fatigue in the area with the (bridge) project (which closed part of) Powers Ferry. You haven’t been able to go down Powers Ferry via Roswell Road for, I think, eight months now. I think we should be pushing non-local traffic to other routes.”
City officials, in previous council meeting presentations on the project, have said the roundabout won’t have landscaping because the area is too small to allow for it.
In related news, the council voted 5-0 to approve adding about $430,000 to the budget for the Glenridge Drive intersection realignment project, which has been increased to about $4.5 million. District 1 Councilman John Paulson was absent. The realignment is needed, city officials have said, to make the intersection safer and easier to manage.
For the project, $222,825 is needed to replace a Georgia Power transmission pole, and another $207,955.28 was requested for the city’s own decorative and proprietary items.
During the council’s work session preceding the meeting, Marty Martin, the city’s director of public works, said construction on the project is expected to start in early June, and it is supposed to take 20 months, including utility relocation.
“I’m delighted we’re getting to this project,” said District 5 Councilman Tibby DeJulio, who motioned for the budget addition’s approval and whose district includes the intersection. “Fulton County had sat on the project for five to 10 years before we got it. There have been lots of accidents at that intersection. Hopefully this will be completed with a 90-degree (angle) intersection in the next two years.”