By John Schaffner

Sandy Springs recently submitted an updated five-year action plan to the Atlanta Regional Commission to obtain funding for transportation projects as a continuation of the Downtown Livable Centers Initiative.

The LCI program, originally funded through Sandy Springs Revitalization in 2000, is designed to help the city develop a town center. That has become a priority since the city purchased the former Target store site at Sandy Springs Circle and Johnson Ferry Road for a future City Hall location.

The city recently received $1.8 million in construction funding for work on Sandy Springs Circle through the LCI program.

The five-year update and action plan keeps the original LCI study current and allows the city to submit another project for priority transportation funding. It also enables the city to become eligible for applying for supplemental study funds to engage in a full 10-year update of the plan.

Without passage of the five-year update/action plan by the mayor and Sandy Springs City Council, no other projects could be submitted for priority transportation funding through the LCI program.

The LCI program was started by the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) in 2000. For the region, $13 million was allocated at the time for LCI studies and $500 million allocated for priority transportation studies.

Among the goals of Sandy Springs’ Downtown LCI are to identify guidelines for the creation of a town center, prepare an integrated transportation and land-use plan, identify a wider range of housing choices, prepare urban design guidelines and identify fundable projects for implementation.

The five-year update/action plan was presented to the council during a work session Sept. 7 by Public Works Director Thomas Black and then presented to council for its approval on Sept. 21.

Currently unfunded projects identified in the original LCI study include additional studies, such as a parking, transit and walkability study; design and construction of a transit park-and-ride lot and three 500-space and one 1,000-space park-and-walk parking decks; bikeways/multi-use paths in various areas of the city; and road extensions for Boylston, Hilderbrand and Blue Stone roads.

The approved five-year update was submitted to the ARC by Sandy Springs on Sept. 25.

The next steps outlined by the city’s Public Works staff would be to submit an application in late November for supplemental funds for a 10-year update to the LCI. The city can apply for up to $50,000 with a 20 percent local match of funds.

If that supplemental funding is approved, the city’s Public Works Department hopes to select a consultant for the project by February 2011, conduct the public involvement process in March to May of 2011, do the analysis and study compilation May to August 2011, and make the presentation to City Council in September 2011.

John Schaffner

John Schaffner was founding editor of Reporter Newspapers.