The Sandy Springs Public Works Department thought it had a quick, easy way to relieve congestion on the Roswell Road bridge over I-285, but nothing is easy with road projects.

The center lane of the bridge is split into two left-turn lanes onto I-285 — one for northbound traffic and one for southbound traffic. The City Council voted Oct. 21 to create a full, dedicated turn lane in each direction, along with one northbound travel lane and two southbound travel lanes.

But it turns out that the restriping project requires an environmental impact study.

Mayor Eva Galambos has called the project a “Band-Aid” to improve traffic conditions until the Georgia Department of Transportation’s (GDOT) planned overhaul of the northern part of I-285 takes place. The environmental analysis alone for that overhaul won’t be complete until the end of the year.

“Why would you do an environmental impact study if all you’re going to do is change the paint?” Galambos told Leadership Sandy Springs alumni Jan. 26.

Sandy Springs Assistant Public Works Director Jon Drysdale said the city will apply to do a “categorical exclusion” rather than a full environmental impact study. A categorical exclusion can be done in about 60 days, while a full study can take a year, he said.

He didn’t know the cost but said the money is budgeted and won’t hold up the project.

GDOT spokeswoman Erica Fatima said her department also found the proposed lane changes to be unsafe. A GDOT letter responding to the city’s application says: “The department is committed to working with the city of Sandy Springs to devise a low cost, environmentally sensitive solution for operational improvements and congestion relief.”

— Gerhard Schneibel