Fax Reynolds lives close to I-285 in Sandy Springs, so he worried that plans to remake the Perimeter Highway’s intersection with Ga. 400 into a huge, multi-level interchange could bring noisy cars closer to his home.
He was pleasantly surprised by what he saw on the wall-sized maps unveiled by state transportation officials on Aug. 19. It looked like the proposed new collector roads would still be raised above the level of his home, he said.
“It sounds like they are going to keep them above us, which is kind of nice,” he said.
Besides, he said, the proposed $900 million remake of the interchange is needed to keep traffic moving through the Perimeter area. About 400,000 cars now travel through the intersection, GDOT officials said.
“It’s a huge problem in Atlanta,” Reynolds said. “Sitting in traffic is terrible. If we have to sacrifice a little bit, I understand that for the sake of getting cars moving.”
State Department of Transportation officials propose to remake the I-285-Ga. 400 intersection into a five-level interchange with collector and feeder roads stretching from west of Roswell Road to east of Ashford Dunwoody on I-285 and from Hammond Drive in the north to the Glenridge Connector in the south along Ga. 400.
A GDOT consultant said the project would add three lanes on each side of the high east to west, three to four lanes on each side to the north and one lane on each side to the south.
Work on the project is expected to begin in 2016 and conclude in 2019, GDOT spokesman David Spear said.
The I-285-Ga. 400 project will connect with a separate project under way to build collector lanes along Ga. 400 north of Hammond Drive to Spalding Drive, GDOT officials said.
On Aug. 19, more than 100 residents and local officials talked with GDOT consultants and engineers about the project and surveyed huge maps set up on easels in the gym of Dunwoody Baptist Church that showed the outlines of the project.
“It’s a great day,” said Yvonne Williams, president and CEO of the Perimeter Center Improvement Districts, an organization she said has been promoting the interchange improvements for a dozen years. “
Other local officials agreed. “I’m excited,” said Dunwoody Mayor Mike Davis.
“I’m a big fan of this project,” said Dunwoody Planning Commission member Bill Grossman, who has served as president of the Dunwoody Homeowners Association. “The DHA has always supported the collector-distributor lanes. Anything we can do to get people to go around Dunwoody instead of through – that’s the bottom line.”
Several residents who live near I-285 also warmed to the project. “It’s good. I’m in favor of it,” Gil Carter of Sandy Springs said. “They’ve minimized the effect on where we live.”
Carter said his home is so close to the interchange that “we can get a traffic report any time. We just go out and look.” The new plan, he said, removes some of the items he’d found troublesome in earlier proposals. “They’re corrected a lot of problems we’ve had to fight,” he said.
Other residents welcomed the improvement, but worried about having to deal with years of construction.
“If it alleviates traffic in the area, it’s a good thing,” Mike Buchbinder of Sandy Springs said. “But I think it’s going to make traffic worse, especially when they’re building it.”
Grossman joked that by the time construction of the new interchange was complete, the traffic would have increased to fill it. “That’ll probably balance out,” he said. “This is the minimum that has to be done.”
Not everyone found the design to be minimal. Dara Lazar of Sandy Springs said she thought the project was too complicated. “I think they took a very simple interchange that needed some help and put way too much thought into it,” she said. “It looks like it’s more confusing. They took something confusing and made it overly complex.”
Stacy Garguilo of Dunwoody looked closely at the maps to try to determine how close construction would come to her neighborhood in the Georgetown area of Dunwoody. “I’m still trying to figure it out,” she said.
Still, she welcomed the idea of fixing the troublesome interchange.
“I think it’s necessary,” she said. “Traffic is insane over there.”