Cobb drivers are one step closer to traffic congestion relief in the Barrett Parkway corridor, but a $33.5 million project aimed at providing that relief remains a few years down the road.

The project is known as the South Barrett Parkway Reliever, phase 3, with the biggest portion of the 0.81-mile project being a 450-foot bridge that goes over Interstate 75 but would have no access to the interstate. It would also consist of extending and widening Shiloh Valley Drive/Greers Chapel Drive over the interstate, terminating at the intersection of Roberts Court and Barrett Parkway, with a roundabout put in where Greers Chapel meets Roberts Court.

Cobb commissioners approved a contract on May 28 with the Georgia Department of Transportation for acquisition of right-of-way for the project. Per the contract terms, the county will purchase required rights-of-way and easements for the projects, while GDOT will reimburse 80 percent of eligible right-of-way expenditures in an amount not to exceed about $4.82 million.

The county’s project list under the 2016 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax earmarks $18 million for the project.

“Getting that agreement with the DOT approved, that will give us the opportunity to begin the right-of-way phase. It’s a big step,” said Erica Parish, director of the Cobb Department of Transportation. “It’ll help us move into our next phase — we can start our pre-acquisition, and once we get through that and doing appraisals, then we can start meeting property owners.”

A potential timetable for the project, Parish said, could see construction start sometime in late 2021 with the project opening in late 2022, “but I would think it might be a little later than that,” she added.

Meantime, Parish said the county will continue to seek additional funding for the project from GDOT and the Atlanta Regional Commission.

Another partner in the project has been the Town Center Community Improvement District, whose executive director, Tracy Rathbone Styf, said the remaining funding should be in place sometime this year.

“The CID has invested more than $1.6 million in preliminary engineering and design, and then we received a $1.5 million GTIB (Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank) grant for phase 3, and then the $10.4 million from the Atlanta Regional Commission was the original amount that came through,” Rathbone Styf said, “and we actually received an additional allotment this year of nearly $2 million.”

The CID, she added, is preparing to bid out for a feasibility study to test for the possibility of South Barrett Reliever phase 4, which would go across Interstate 575 and either connect at Chastain Meadows Parkway or possibly go all the way up to Bells Ferry Road.

“It’s looking at options to get the loop to the east side of 575, because making that final connection point, long-term, will truly be a congestion reliever for that east side of the Town Center area,” Rathbone Styf said of the Reliever’s possible fourth phase, but added that the third phase itself is “a critical infrastructure project for Town Center and for the entire region.”

The first phase of the Reliever project was completed in 2010 and included the realignment of Greers Chapel Road at its intersection with Barrett Lakes Boulevard, as well as the widening of the roadway to four lanes. A 20-foot median was also installed from Cobb Parkway to Barrett Parkway.

Phase two, completed last year, included a redesigned intersection to travel though at Barrett Lakes Boulevard at Shiloh Valley Drive featuring a two-lane roundabout, bike lanes and a 5-foot sidewalk.

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