Widening Hammond Drive, adding bike lanes and more sidewalks — these are all on the table for potential future plans for the corridor that connects Sandy Springs and Dunwoody.
At an April 21 open house at Dunwoody City Hall, residents got a chance to look at proposed plans for five sections of Hammond Road corridor: Glenridge Drive to Barfield Road; Barfield Road to Concourse Parkway; Concourse Parkway to Peachtree Dunwoody Road; Peachtree Dunwoody Road to Perimeter Center Parkway; and Perimeter Center Parkway to Ashford-Dunwoody Road.
The proposed plans are part of a partnership between Sandy Springs, Dunwoody and the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts. The three entities are working together to come up with a concept that addresses traffic, pedestrians and cyclists as continuing developments arise in Perimeter Center for the heavily traveled Hammond Drive.
Jennifer Harper, chief of Programs and Operations with PCID, said the PCID and the cities know capacity is a challenge on Hammond Drive.
“It is important to think about the challenge as a multijurisdictional issue rather than just the Dunwoody part and the Sandy Springs part,” she said. “As development comes in, and with residential density coming, it is important to preserve right of way.”
Average daily traffic volumes range from over 27,000 near Ga. 400 to over 16,000 near Ashford-Dunwoody Road.
As Mercedes Benz and State Farm construct their new headquarters along the corridor and with more massive developments in the works, Harper said it’s important the two cities work together to have a vision for the future.
A year ago, Sandy Springs and Dunwoody commissioned Gresham, Smith and Partners to create a bicycle and pedestrian improvement plan for Hammond Drive between Sandy Springs’ Glenridge Drive and Dunwoody’s Ashford-Dunwoody Road. The plans include some widening of Hammond Drive but mostly feature distinct bike and walking areas except for a stretch of multi-use path.
The goal of the plan is to guide future road work and local redevelopments—and specifically to get developers to pay for building the features. The design was made within the existing right of way, in part to keep it feasible for developers and in part because some sections are limited by the Ga. 400 overpass and the Dunwoody MARTA Station bridge.
Michael Smith, public works director for the city of Dunwoody, said no specific timeline is set for the project.
“This is probably in the 5- to 10-year horizon timeline. We will need to do more design … and line up construction funding,” he said.
“As much as possible we’ve tried to keep this in the existing right of way. There are some instances where we have to widen the right of way … but there is no major impact on adjacent property owners,” Smith said.
The study focuses on ensuring the area is a walkable urban center that it the mission of PCID, Harper said.
Claire Willis of Dunwoody said she was pleased the study looked at different modes of transportation.
“I take MARTA and walk quite a bit. It’s important to think about this now rather than later,” she said. “Traffic affects you no matter what — if you are in the bus you wait in traffic, when you are walking traffic affects you.”
The Sandy Springs City Council looked at the corridor study last month. The council is also buying land along Hammond Drive for a future widening between Roswell Road and Glenridge Drive project that is part of a different study.
Bill Black, who lives “technically in Sandy Springs but right next to Dunwoody,” bikes about 300 to 400 miles every month.
He won’t ride on Hammond Drive now because of the traffic, but does ride on Peachtree Dunwoody Road and Mount Vernon Road. The study for Hammond Drive “looks OK to someone who doesn’t ride bikes,” he said.
The study calls for a 10-foot wide two-way cycle track from Glenridge Drive to Barfield Road – where cyclists can ride in opposite directions on the same side of the road. There is a 2-foot buffer between the cycle track and a 6-foot wide sidewalk.
“Drivers barely recognize bikers in the directions they are supposed to be going,” Black said. “We are going to have some accidents with our Atlanta drivers. It doesn’t matter if the biker is in the right or wrong.”
The cycle track and sidewalk merge to become a multi-use path from Barfield Road to Concourse Parkway, including over the Ga. 400 bridge. Black said putting pedestrians together with cyclists could also cause problems because pedestrians don’t watch for cyclists.
From Concourse Parkway to Peachtree Dunwoody Road, the two-way cycle track continues. Then from Peachtree Dunwoody Road to Ashford-Dunwoody Road, cyclists are then given 5-foot paths on each side of the road. Cyclists will be forced to cross a busy thoroughfare. “There has to be some thought on how to get bikers safely across the road,” Black said.
“I’d like to have someone in planning spend a month on a bike and come back and look at the study,” he said. . “It’s different when you actually ride in traffic.”
Black is not all negative, though. “I do like what I’m hearing about connecting to Path 400 [in Buckhead],” he said.
Bike Walk Dunwoody has listed its concerns and recommendations for the corridor on its website.
Dara Lazar Buchbinder of Sandy Springs said she disliked the idea of putting a median in between Glenridge Drive and Barfield Road because it is already difficult to turn into Hammond Park, for example.
“It will just cause more traffic to back up,” she said.
Harper of PCID said the study is one step toward having all stakeholders agree on a vision for the corridor and then finding the money to implement it.
“[The study] focuses on creating a walkable urban center. Hammond Drive is an important artery for the Perimeter,” she said.
“The developers need to know what to expect. After we get [consensus on a plan] from corporate partners, local governments and local residents, then we look for funding. We don’t think the path to finding funding is absolute, but this is how we get there.”