By Joe Earle
joeearle@reporternewspapers.net

The ‘diverging diamond’ interchange proposed for Ashford-Dunwoody Road would direct cars to cross the bridge in the left lane before they exit onto I-285.

Several drivers who regularly travel across the Ashford-Dunwoody Road bridge across I-285 recently studied new state plans to try to speed traffic through the area and seemed eager to endorse the proposal.

“Anything that is going to move traffic along in this intersection, I’m all for it,” said Stephanie Wiggins, who lives in Brookhaven and works near the intersection.

State highway officials plan to redirect cars on and around the Ashford-Dunwoody Road bridge over I-285in a new intersection design that requires cars to cross the bridge in lanes now used by traffic headed the opposite way.

The redesigned interchange, called a “diverging diamond” or “double crossover” design, would be the first of its kind in Georgia, said Marlo Clowers, Georgia DOT project manager. Diverging diamond intersections now exist in Missouri and Utah, she said.

“We’re really just reconfiguring the interchange. We’re not widening it,” Clowers said. “We’re taking what we have there and finding ways to maximize it.”

On the bridge, drivers would cross in the left-hand lane, rather than the right. That allows cars to exit onto I-285 more quickly because they don’t have to turn in front of oncoming traffic at the exit, according to DOT officials.

The $5 million project, presented during a public information open house on Nov. 18, will include a new ramp for eastbound traffic exiting I-285 and moving the pedestrian walkway to the middle of the bridge.

Andy Sumlin, at center, and Caroline Nolen, right, examine the plans for the ‘diverging diamond’ interchange at Ashford-Dunwoody Road and I-285 as consultant Bill Rusham of Moreland Altobelli looks on.

Construction is expected next summer and is scheduled to take six months, Clowers said. If construction is not completed by the next holiday season, it will be suspended and completed the following year, DOT representatives said.

Clowers said construction consultants hope to close the Ashford-Dunwoody Bridge only for a single weekend during construction.

Caroline Nolen, who said she’d worked in the area near the bridge for 17 years, called the work “a much needed improvement.”

“I use Ashford-Dunwoody and 285 every day and look forward to having my commute time compressed.”

Deborah McCalman, who lives in Dunwoody, also found the plan to redesign the intersection “a great idea,” but worried that it might not go far enough.

“As a resident here, anything that can help alleviate traffic is always a good thing,” she said. “But I think it will take a lot more – less people driving. People should car pool more.”