More than two months after blasting Cobb County and Pill Hill hospitals for “nightmare” traffic, the city of Sandy Springs is inking deals to work with them on mitigation plans.

Cobb has abandoned its plan to dump future Braves stadium traffic off I-285 onto Northside Drive and is backing parts of the city’s own traffic management plan, officials said at the Aug. 16 Sandy Springs City Council meeting. And Pill Hill hospitals are close to signing onto a city-administered “Shared Congestion and Parking Management Strategy.”

“Are we at nirvana? No, not even close to it,” Mayor Rusty Paul said of the Braves traffic situation. But, he added, dialogue is underway, “so there’s no more need for temper tantrums from the rostrum for now.”

Paul’s traffic-related outbursts seemed to play a role in bringing Cobb and the hospitals back to the table in recent weeks. But actual solutions are still down the road, and many residents continue to raise traffic concerns on their own. The Riverside Homeowners Association has organized a Sept. 21 community traffic forum at Riverwood International Charter School.
Meanwhile, here is the current state of traffic-planning agreements.

Cobb and the Braves
Cobb will no longer seek to dump stadium traffic deliberately onto Northside Drive, Assistant City Manager Bryant Poole announced to the City Council. And it has agreed to back such city proposals as a “slip ramp” that would allow drivers to shift directly from I-285 onto Interstate North Parkway during stadium events.

Cobb and the city have written a joint letter to the Braves and the Georgia Department of Transportation requesting such projects, which could be done by Opening Day in April, according to Poole and City Manager John McDonough.

Cobb does want to install an electronic sign with changing traffic messages along Interstate North Parkway within Sandy Springs, an idea that some city councilmembers had hesitations about.

Pill Hill
The city is close to having Pill Hill’s three hospitals—Northside, Emory Saint Joseph’s and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite—sign an agreement to coordinate their traffic and parking management plans.

A draft of the agreement shows several detailed requests, including a $5,000 contribution “toward the cost of a parking management consultant for the Medical Center area to prepare recommendations for gaining efficiencies.” The city would hire and manage the consultant. The agreement includes an October deadline for coming up with a written strategy.

CHOA said it is committed to working with the city, while Northside said it is reviewing the agreement and may want to provide feedback before signing it. Emory Saint Joseph’s did not respond to questions.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.