After hearing the findings from a traffic study at an Oct. 15 work session, Sandy Springs has dropped the idea of paying an additional $30 million for the Georgia Department of Transportation to move a proposed toll lane interchange to Crestline Parkway and has opted to endorse GDOT’s plan to build it on Mount Vernon Highway.
“There are so many things in this city we could spend $30 million on for the benefit of the residents of this city rather than spending 30 million for the people who want to cut through our city,” said District 5 City Councilmember Tibby DeJulio.
Sandy Springs previously pushed back on GDOT’s plan to use Mount Vernon as an access point for its Ga. 400 toll lanes project and asked for Crestline, south of Mount Vernon, to be considered instead.
The toll lanes, called “express lanes” or “managed lanes,” are proposed by GDOT in two projects that would add four new toll lanes along I-285 and Ga. 400 in the Perimeter Center area over the next 15 years.
GDOT had said it was willing to consider Crestline if Sandy Springs funded the extra expense, a cost originally estimated at $23 million, but after the study’s findings is estimated to be $30 million.
“GDOT is pleased with the city’s decision and we look forward to continuing to move forward collaboratively with Sandy Springs,” Director of Strategic Communications Scott Higley said.
Documents obtained by the Reporter in March revealed the Crestline option would also potentially demolish eight townhomes.
The Perimeter Center Improvement Districts was previously looking at the Crestline option for the city, but the city conducted the study using AECOM, an infrastructure consulting firm.
The study compared the number of average daily trips in each option. The findings showed that in the Crestline option, upon completion in 2048, the trips would be reduced by 3,000 vehicles.
“Thirty million dollars for three thousand cars,” District 1 City Councilmember John Paulson said. “If we did this, we would be spending $10,000 per car.”
“We are being asked to spend $30 million on taxpayer money for a problem we are trying to solve in 2048,” DeJulio said. “This makes no sense.”
“Thirty million seems like a whole lot and it seems like we have been led to a decision here,” District 6 City Councilmember Andy Bauman said.
Some residents along Mount Vernon had pushed for the Crestline option as well, fearing the future traffic impacts of a new interchange. But many homeowners who would be affected by the Crestline option had similar concerns, as well as the property-taking issue.
The council did not have to vote because ultimately, GDOT will make the final decision at a later date.
Mayor Rusty Paul said he is glad the city conducted the study to get a clear answer.
“I think this was an exercise that we needed to go through to make sure that we were making the right decisions for the community,” Paul said.