Work to fix the “top end” of I-285 may still be years away, but City Council wants the project’s planners to know they’re not on board with some of the proposed solutions.
During its May 7 meeting, City Council rejected its own resolution that would have given state officials the OK to buy portions of Allen Park when the project starts moving. Council’s objections weren’t about the park, however.
Council members objected to passing a resolution that did not explicitly state its objection to one option of the multi-option plan. That option, number 6-A, allows the state Department of Transportation to create an exit onto Sandy Springs Circle.
That would put an interstate exit in the middle of what will one day be the city’s redeveloped downtown. City Council said that plan is unacceptable.
“I don’t want this council to be on record stating anything that will be a positive thing for alternative 6-A,” Councilman Gabriel Sterling said before the vote to reject the resolution.
Plans to improve I-285 have been put under one roof as “Revive285,” a joint project between the state Department of Transportation and the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority. Revive285 has hired ARCADIS as the planning consultant and employees of the firm recently updated City Council on the project.
The planning process has been ongoing since 2006. The “top end” of I- 285 is the portion between the intersections of I-75 and I-85, much of it in the city’s front yard. The city’s approval of the resolution is one step in the process of completing the environmental impact statement required for the project.
The city’s downtown revitalization effort is ahead of Revive285. Sandy Springs this year has begun spending millions on what will be a decade’s worth of road and infrastructure improvements. Option 6-A would cost $2.84 billion, and planners haven’t identified a funding source.
ARCADIS Senior Transportation Planner Timothy Preece said the best case scenario would mean the I-285 improvements could begin in the next five years. Preece said a more realistic timeline is 10 to 15 years.
City Manager John McDonough told council before the vote that the city should pass something to provide input on the project. “I think even if we deny this, we owe them some type of feedback,” McDonough said.
“I think by denying this, we are going on record we are opposed to this,” Councilman Tibby DeJulio said.
City staff members are reworking the resolution to reflect the council’s position.