With a unanimous vote at the April 16 City Council meeting, Sandy Springs residents are one step closer to safely riding their bikes all the way to Krog Street Market.
Sandy Springs has long-planned to build a path from Buckhead to the city, and this move nails down the funding and construction agreement. A separate, connecting piece will be built by the Georgia Department of Transportation under the I-285/Ga.400 interchange, bringing the path up Peachtree-Dunwoody Road.
The council voted to enter into an agreement with the city of Atlanta to design a multiuse path that would extend Buckhead’s PATH400 trail all the way to Johnson Ferry Road in Sandy Springs.
The connection to PATH400 will allow Sandy Springs to travel all the way to the Atlanta BeltLine system.
And the trail will continue through the Ga.400/I-285 interchange along Peachtree-Dunwoody Road. That piece is being built by the Georgia Department of Transportation during its massive project reconstructing the interchange.
But the piece in Sandy Springs may have a different name. The name will be decided after the final design is completed, city spokesperson Dan Coffer said in an email.
The council authorized a design process, though funding for that phase of the project won’t be officially requested until this summer. The designs will cost approximately $360,000, and Atlanta will pay Sandy Springs 22.2% of that, or no more than $81,519, since 22.2% of the project will be in Atlanta.
The plan to extend PATH400 has long been in the works. Concept design work began in 2018 following initial public meetings in 2017. The new design work will include preliminary plans, environmental studies and surveying.
A public open house is expected to be held this summer.
The completed designs are expected in 2020, with construction projected to begin by 2021 and complete by 2023.
Funding for construction also would be split between the municipalities, but according to Sandy Springs Communications Director Sharon Kraun, the exact source of that funding would not be determined until 2021. Allen Johnson, a Sandy Springs program manager who presented the proposal, said the split will be proportional to how much of the path is in their respective cities.
“The construction in each city will be funded by that city,” he said. “We won’t pay for something that isn’t in our city limits unless we agree to reimbursement.”
Sandy Springs expects to pay a total of $4.1 million for the entire project.
The path would run mostly along Ga. 400, weaving in and out of communities at a few locations. Three sections of the path would cross streets, including two crossings with bridges to isolate the pedestrian traffic and comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and another over Nancy Creek. The largest would be a bridge over the Glenridge Connector ramps that would be aesthetically similar to the PATH400 bridge in Buckhead that runs over Ga. 400.
The only location to have a mandatory street crossing, at Loridans Drive, will be altered to allow regular pedestrian access.
“We’ll have signals, crosswalks, and whatever else is needed to make that crossing, and any other smaller crossing, safe,” Johnson said.
Parts of PATH400 have already been built in Buckhead, with plans to extend it to the Sandy Springs area on Loridans Drive. At that site, a new city park is in the planning stages and a preliminary design exists for a crossing to continue the path into Sandy Springs.
Councilmembers expressed enthusiasm for the project, as they have since its inception in 2017, and Councilmember Andy Bauman even brought up the possibility of expanding this path further into Sandy Springs upon its completion.
“We want our citizens to safely get all the way to Chastain Park [in Buckhead], and I can see this path paving the way for that,” Bauman said.
Councilmember John Paulson said he was excited to see the plans, and referenced the city’s original goals as once discussed by founding Mayor Eva Galambos.
“This is exactly what our late mayor and those of us who worked to make Sandy Springs envisioned,” Councilman Paulson said.
Johnson said the city’s long-term goal for the path to act as a spine for a larger network of trails.
-Katia Martinez and Evelyn Andrews