The city of Sandy Springs is officially siding with the state on its preference to build a new interchange on Mount Vernon Highway as part of the Georgia 400 express lanes and bus rapid transit project.
“I think we’ve reached that point when we’ve reached the final recommendation,” Mayor Rusty Paul said.
Ever since the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT)’s plans for the project were made public early this year, it stated it wants to build the interchange on Mount Vernon, but the city preferred it to be constructed on Crestline Parkway, just south of Mount Vernon, due to traffic concerns.
However, the Crestline alternative would mean eight townhomes would be acquired by GDOT because they would be in the right-of-way, something several residents have complained about. Also, it would cost an estimated extra $30 million, which the city would have to contribute.
At their work session Oct. 15 at City Springs, Paul and the Sandy Springs City Council gave Marty Martin, the city’s director of public works, the order to remove the Crestline option from the table regarding the 400 express lanes project design, leaving only Mount Vernon. No vote was taken because one was not required, since the city’s recommendation is not binding and GDOT will make the final decision.
The choice came after Martin provided a presentation on the Crestline and Mount Vernon options as well as a no-build alternative. Though some council members questioned some of the math regarding the number of vehicles counted in the city’s traffic study based on each option, they said they couldn’t justify spending an extra $30 million in city funds on the interchange.
“The simple math is $30 million for (reducing traffic by) 3,000 cars, which would be $10,000 per car,” District 1 Councilman John Paulson said, referring to the traffic study’s prediction of the Crestline interchange decreasing traffic by that amount on Mount Vernon from Glenridge Drive to Barfield Road in 2048.
Said Paul, “I think this was an exercise we needed to go through, to make sure we did (look at all options).”
At a date to be determined, GDOT will make its decision on the interchange as part of a federal environmental process.