Sandy Springs has revealed design concepts for a long-anticipated Hammond Drive widening project that include expanding the two-lane road to four lanes with a grassy median; adding two large roundabouts at major intersections; and putting a pedestrian walkway underneath the road. The design could affect 80 properties with either displacement or right of way takings, according to city officials.

The concepts were presented at a Feb. 26 meeting at City Hall, where a 15-minute presentation was given by Allen Johnson, manager of the city projects funded by a transportation special local option sales tax, followed by an open house where residents could look at renderings. The conceptual design likely will come to the City Council in a non-voting work session in April, according to city spokesperson Sharon Kraun. There, the council advise planners on whether to go forward with the conceptual design and what still needs to be looked at.

A public comment period runs through March 13. Comments can be emailed to communications@sandyspringsga.gov.

The conceptual designs, created by Gresham Smith and Partners, run from the intersection of Roswell Road and Hammond to Barfield Road and Hammond. The design would make Hammond Drive four lanes, adding a lane in each direction. The design would also create two large roundabouts at the intersections with Hilderbrand Drive and Brookgreen Road/Lorell Terrace. The intersection with Glenridge Drive would be widened and improved.

A rendering of a roundabout proposed for Hilderbrand Drive as part of the design concepts for the Hammond Drive widening project that were presented at a Feb. 26 meeting. (Hannah Greco)

The designs propose six new cul-de-sacs and private access roads along Hammond to give some residents easy access to their neighborhoods as well as protect them from cut-through traffic.

The design also proposes a pedestrian underpass that would run underneath Hammond on Kayron and multiuse bicycle and pedestrian paths along Hammond, as well as green space.

A rendering of a pedestrian underpass proposed at Kayron Drive as part of the design concepts for the Hammond Drive widening project presented at a Feb. 26 meeting. (Hannah Greco)

Houses and businesses could be torn down for the project. The concepts have 18 properties marked for potential displacements, including: 300, 310, 316, 336, 504, 514, 534, 544, 576 Hammond Drive; 509 Hilderbrand Avenue; 6026 and 6029 Kayron Drive; 636 and 643 Lorell Terrace; and 5995 and 6000 Roswell Road.

City spokesperson Sharon Kraun said some of the houses listed as potential displacements are properties the city has already bought in anticipation for the project. The city has spent around $9 million on 26 houses, according to Johnson. Police officers currently live in some of the houses in a city pilot program for affordable housing.

 The concepts also have several properties marked for potential right of way or temporary easement acquisition. Kraun said the lines seen on the conceptual plans are worst-case scenario and as the designs become finalized, the city will minimize the impacts as much as they can.

“We always provide a worst-case scenario because you’d rather give residents better news as you go along rather than [say], ‘Oops, we made a mistake and need more,’” Kraun said.

According to Johnson, 80 properties could be impacted one way or another, and the remaining right of way required is estimated to cost $15 million to $18 million.

Residents had mixed feelings about the conceptual plans presented.

“I’ve been adamantly opposed to the widening since they first started talking about it,” a resident said at the meeting. “The problem is [the] Roswell Road and Hammond [intersection], and this will just cause more traffic.”

“I think one of the issues that a lot of people are grappling with is this is not suburbia anymore,” another resident said. “We are an urban area and urban areas have a lot of traffic. The people from Cobb [County] are going to get home however they get home.”

Jeff Chadwick, who lives on Kayron, was pleased with the concepts, but did recognize that other residents could suffer from the potential project.

“My gain is others loss,” Chadwick said. “The people on Hilderbrand and Brookgreen that get the roundabouts, and then seeing Kayron sealed off — they are going to get more traffic.”

The final design phase is expected to take 18-24 months, Kraun said, and the construction will take 24-36 months. The design and early property acquisitions were funded by a TSPLOST that will soon expire. According to Johnson, the city would need to wait until the next TSPLOST to go forward with construction, which is estimated to cost around $34 million. The project could go on the ballot for the next TSPLSOT election in November 2021, Johnson said.

The Hammond widening concept goes back many years and predates the city’s incorporation in 2005. Most of Hammond has been widened over the years, but the section between Roswell Road and Glenridge Drive in the Glenridge Hammond neighborhood remains two lanes. According to the city, the current and growing traffic demand along Hammond has led to an increase in neighborhood cut-through traffic and adversely impacts adjacent roadways. The decision on whether to perform the widening has not been made, officials have said, and would follow public reaction to the presentation.

In August, the City Council authorized a contract with Gresham to wrap up a design presentation for a public meeting for $47,500. The design and right of way pre-acquisition has been included as part of the TSPLOST referendum passed in 2016.

To date, the city has spent $9.1 million of the current $14.4 million TSPLOST budget and has $5.3 million left.

Correction: A previous version of this story gave an incorrect email address for public comments.

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