Tuesday evening might have been a beautiful time for a walk or a bicycle ride. Instead, hundreds of local residents were focused on another mode of transportation; and more specifically, a key highway for North Fulton drivers - Ga. 400.
The activity building at the in Roswell was full of local drivers eager to discuss one of the area’s hot button topics: express lanes on Ga. 400.
The Georgia Department of Transportation held its first of three open houses , Tuesday.
The DOT provided stations in the activity room: the first was a video discussing the issue. Elsewhere there were experts fielding questions while standing at maps. The DOT also offered to let citizens fill out a study survey.
The area under consideration for the lanes goes from State Route 20 - Buford Drive - in Forsyth County south, to where the highway intersects with I-285.
During the two-hour open house, citizens came with some ideas and with some gripes.
They also learned a few things:
- No funding source has yet been identified to pay for the right of way and construction. As a voice on the introductory video said: “Even with tolls there may not be money for improvements.”
- If lanes were added, they would be managed lanes, probably involving a toll.
- The current lane configuration will probably not be messed with. It seems likely only the added lanes would be toll lanes. It is unlikely that current lanes will become managed lanes.
- The DOT is open to ideas about how many lanes to add, the possibility of reversible lanes and most any other idea.
“We are at the very beginning stages,” said Bryant Poole, District Engineer, Georgia Dept of Transportation. “Do we want four lanes, two lanes, nothing at all? What other creative ideas do (people) have and certainly, in this case, there are no identified funds to acquire right of way and build the road.
“That is part of what this is about. If we could come up with an idea, how would we fund it?”
Poole noted that transportation projects must make sense to facilitate growth decades in the future.
“(We’ll consider) any creative way that we can think of to manage congestion that will project into the future and that is the key,” Poole said. “When we develop our transportation system, it is not thinking today or tomorrow, we’re thinking 30 years out. That is the key, even if we have to build it in phases.”
The DOT hopes to finish collecting public input by June, the video explained. Ideally, environmental documents would be approved by late 2013.
The department’s other open houses regarding Ga. 400 will be Thursday at Piney Grove Middle School in Cumming and March 20 at First Baptist Church in Sandy Springs.
Those who cannot attend one of the three meetings can still have their say by filling out an online DOT survey.