A largely sidewalk-free stretch of Sandy Springs Circle will get a multi-use trail, and two of its travel lanes will be converted to on-street parking, in a major redesign slated for early 2017.
The $7 million project targets the third-of-a-mile section of Sandy Springs Circle between Hammond Drive and Mount Vernon Highway. While the work is still a year away, the city held an open house to review the designs on March 9 at the Sandy Springs United Methodist Church Activities Center.
More than 50 residents attended in the open house’s first hour, expressing general approval of sidewalks, but concerns on whether it would worsen traffic. City consultants and officials said it won’t and that a traffic study has been done.
The more pedestrian-friendly design is part of the city’s 2012 City Center Master Plan proposal for the street, which runs past Heritage Sandy Springs’ historic site and two shopping centers. The plan calls for roomy walkways separated from street traffic by wide strips of grass. The west side of the street would get a 12-foot-wide multi-use path in addition to a 6-foot-wide pedestrian-only sidewalk. The east side would get a 10-foot-wide sidewalk, reduced to 8 feet along Heritage Green Park to reduce right-of-way impact. Both sides of the street would get new trees, though some likely will be removed for the project as well.
Currently two lanes in each direction, the street would be converted to one lane each way. About 75 on-street parking spaces would be added on both sides of the street, largely as a traffic-calming measure, and partial medians with left-turn lanes would be installed. The actual pavement’s current width of 48 feet would remain the same.
The plans lack a mid-block pedestrian crossing, as one open house attendee noted. Andrew Thompson, the city’s capital programs manager, said such a crossing is not allowed under federal design rules. But the design includes some brick-paved bulb-outs to shorten the crossing for pedestrians who cross anyway, he said.
The multi-use trail wouldn’t connect to much except regular sidewalks, but is part of a trail master plan being built out over time. “The hope is, [in the] long view, we’re going to build a multi-use path network,” said Thompson. “We’re trying to piece together as much as we can.”
A similar trail may be part of a planned reconstruction of the Mount Vernon/Sandy Springs Circle intersection, a separate project that may happen sooner, city officials said. That project is part of the City Springs redevelopment underway and will include reducing the grade of the Sandy Springs Circle hill, which currently blocks views of oncoming traffic.
The Sandy Springs Circle streetscape project would require retaining walls in some areas. The work would involve lane closures, but not a total street closure, city officials said. The city still needs to acquire right of way on an estimated 11 parcels.
A city consultant is accepting public comments on the Sandy Springs Circle proposal through Fri., March 18 at email@example.com or via postal mail at Michael Baker International, c/o Beth Ann Schwartz, Project CC-10, 420 Technology Parkway, Suite 150, Norcross, GA 30092.