To the editor:

The proposed widening of Hammond Drive between Glenridge Drive and Roswell Road would negatively impact all who live and work in Sandy Springs. At the core of this proposal is the obsolete notion that Hammond Drive is a problem; in fact, its present two-lane configuration is the most cost-effective and best solution to the separation and control of transient and commuter traffic from local and destination traffic in Sandy Springs.

At a time when established and growing cities all over the world are proposing to “do something” to limit the congestion and pollution caused by nonessential traffic in their downtown centers, the city of Sandy Springs is proposing to do the opposite. Where others are closing roads, narrowing roads, imposing congestion or time-of-day toll access to channel nonessential commuter and transient traffic away from downtown areas, Sandy Springs is proposing to funnel nonessential and commuter traffic into its downtown and surrounding established neighborhoods.

The widened Hammond Drive would siphon east-west commuter traffic off the primary transit corridors of I-285 and Abernathy Road/Johnson Ferry through downtown Sandy Springs and its surrounding neighborhoods. The ensuing gridlocked traffic would cripple any opportunity to establish a viable downtown and local business community.

Hammond Drive in its present two-lane configuration protects Roswell Road, downtown and surrounding neighborhoods from the onslaught of this traffic. The quality of life in neighborhoods bounding Heards Ferry Drive, Mount Vernon Highway and Johnson Ferry/Glenridge would be degraded by commuters cutting through in their attempt to bypass the gridlocked downtown Sandy Springs. More specifically, the widening of Hammond Drive would bisect a 475-home neighborhood. This virtual destruction of a neighborhood directly contradicts the city’s stated policy of protecting its neighborhoods.

The social and environmental costs of this proposed project are enormous. Hammond Park and its $40 million renovation would be isolated by a wall of concrete and traffic. The engineering challenges presented by the bridging and filling of multiple 100-foot elevation changes along the route would irrevocably damage the 600-acre-plus headwaters and watershed area of Long Island Creek.

The proposed widening conveys no short- or long-term benefits to Sandy Springs. It would be a waste of taxpayer dollars. It is an anachronism and should be rejected.

Richard Farmer