By Jason Massad
and Maggie Lee
Dunwoody and Sandy Springs, which meet at the centerline of the aging pavement of Dunwoody Country Club Drive, have successfully concluded two months of negotiations to resurface the road.
It wasn’t a simple path.
The main sticking point was getting two sets of government officials to see eye-to-eye.
Specifically, the negotiations headed south when Dunwoody officials pushed for more room for bicyclists along a 2.6-mile stretch of the road between Spalding and Mount Vernon drives.
Dunwoody Mayor Ken Wright led the charge for a 5-foot-wide bike lane on a road that is up to 22 feet wide. With Sandy Springs officials calling for a full 11 feet on their side of the road, the math didn’t add up.
For instance, the cost of moving utilities, acquiring easements and purchasing property to accommodate a bike lane could have upped the project costs into the millions, even before the road was resurfaced, said Tom Black, Sandy Springs public works director. Simply repaving the segment, which is showing hairline cracks, is estimated to cost $387,858, said Dunwoody officials.
Sandy Springs Councilwoman Dianne Fries said that while she favors more bicycle-friendly roadways in the city, she has limits.
“We can’t just tack this kind of thing on to every project,” she said. “I’m a bike advocate in the city, but it has to make sense for taxpayers.”
Driving the need for a speedy decision on the fate of the roadwork was $141,031 in state seed funding for the nearly $400,000 project. The seed funding, acquired by Sandy Springs, must be allocated by the end of December, or be lost.
For Dunwoody, a recent City Council meeting resulted in approval of the project but also demonstrated the city’s lukewarm reception to the resurfacing.
The city will reap more than $70,000 in state funding and add $123,414 from its own coffers to the project. However, the road is not at the top of Dunwoody’s road improvements for the year.
“It may not be the road that needs the most paving,” said Councilman Doug Thompson. “But I think the bargain’s out there. We should vote to approve this one.”
Dunwoody Councilman Robert Wittenstein was the lone dissenter in a recent 6-1 vote. The needs of Sandy Springs shouldn’t drive decisions in Dunwoody, he said.
“I recognize that Sandy Springs had it at the top of their list,” he said. “I didn’t think that we should put it at the top of ours.”
While Dunwoody officials dropped the idea of an expensive 5-foot bike lane addition, Wittenstein said that the Dunwoody side of the road, at least, might be safer for bikers at the completion of the project.
Sandy Springs officials want a full 11 feet on their side of the road. Dunwoody officials, for their part, say that they could stripe their side of their road to allow a foot of asphalt for bikers and 10 feet for vehicles.
“What I was suggesting is that when we paint the lines, we give cars a narrower lane,” Wittenstein said. “At least in one direction, the bikes will have a little bit more room than they used to have.”