The Georgia Department of Transportation is considering building a pair of roundabouts on Riverside Drive at the I-285 exit, members of Sandy Springs City Council were told recently.

The roundabouts, which direct traffic so it can keep moving through an intersection rather than stopping at a traffic light, likely will not be built for two to three years, city Public Works Director Tom Black told council members.

One would be built on each side of the Riverside Drive bridge over I-285, according to a plan shown to the council. DOT would not need any additional land at the intersection to build the roundabouts, city officials said.

DOT officials did not respond to requests for interviews to discuss the roundabouts, which city officials said would be among the first in the state built by the transportation agency.

The council agreed to write to the DOT to say the city would provide landscaping and power for streetlights at the intersections. DOT officials approached city transportation officials in Feb. asking for the letter of support for the roundabouts after the city applied to put a traffic light on the westbound ramp, city officials said on the city’s website.

The roundabouts also would serve as a gateway into the neighborhoods, city officials say on the website.

“Next time we get to Europe and say how much we like roundabouts, we can say we have one in Sandy Springs, too,” said City Councilman Tibby DeJulio.

But not everyone agreed. Resident Jim Derrick told the council he opposed changing the Riverside exit.

“I think there are some questions you should be asking,” he said. “Is there enough room to put it there without tremendously impacting that neighborhood? This will not help traffic flow. It’ll just dump more traffic on that area. We don’t need any more traffic near there. We need to find ways to calm the traffic.”

Derrick said the council was “just acquiescing to what DOT wants.”

“It’s disappointing to me,” he said. “It was kind of rubber stamped here.”

But city officials said their agreement was an early step in a process that has a long way to go before construction begins on the roundabouts. They said a series of public meetings would be held by DOT to present the roundabout plans to the public.

DOT will hire a roundabout expert to develop a plan and then present it at the public meeting, the city’s website says. If the public’s response is positive, federal funds will be used for the design and construction, city officials said.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.