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Transportation Update – Historic Gateway

Transportation Update – Historic Gateway

♪♪ If you’ve ever driven through
downtown Roswell, chances are you’ve encountered
State Route 9’s confusing
reversible lanes with the red
and green X’s. Constructed decades ago when
traffic volumes were lower, the reversible lanes were
suppose to improve traffic
flow during peak hours, with the overhead signals
indicating when a lane could
be used in one direction or
the other. But today, many drivers stay out
of the center lane for fear of a
head-on collision. But there is good news because
the City of Roswell and the Georgia Department of
Transportation have been working
on fixing the dangerous conditions on this
road for several years. They’re doing this by removing
the reversible lanes and constructing a four-lane
street that will accommodate
all users. The street will have two
permanent lanes in both
directions, multi-use trails and sidewalks
for pedestrians and bicycles, raised medians, and planting
strips for more than 200 trees that will replace those removed
during construction. Deputy Director of
Transportation, Rob Dell-Ross, tells us fixing the reversible
lanes has been a top priority
for the City of Roswell. -This is a very dangerous
stretch of highway over a four year period we
had 698 accidents for 48 months of data. That was approximately 200
injuries associated with
those accidents. We every day have near
misses. We’ve had fatalities
over the years. As a matter of fact, this
is one of the most dangerous corridors in the area with a
247% higher crash rate and a 208% higher injury rate
than the statewide average. While the City and GDOT are
working together to fix the
road, solving the issue of the
reversible lanes has been a long
and challenging process. -Over 20 years ago, the State
DOT hired an engineering firm to try and engineer and propose
a solution to this road project. It was wider than what we’re
doing now, and it ultimately wasn’t supported by our elected
officials and by our residents. The project sat dormant for
about 10 years, and then the
City tried to revitalize it and figure out is
there a more tasteful, narrow, more context sensitve design
approach to this road in order to have it meet State
DOT standards but yet also meet the desires of our
residents. In 2010, the City began working
with GDOT, Roswell residents, business owners, and the
National Park Service to come
up with a solution for the reversible lanes that
all could agree upon. Easy, right? Not quite. It took three years and many
meetings to find a solution. And in 2012, Mayor and Council
approved the design for the
project. Dell-Ross says stakeholder
involvement was key to its
success. -One of the very first things
the City did to restart the
project in 2010 was we started interacting
with a lot of the stakeholders, residents in the area,
businesses along this corridor, we formed a citizens advisery
committee that had multiple
meetings in 2010 and 2011. From the time period that the
project began, and we signed
a contract to our public information open
house in 2012. We had
approximately 20 meetings with different resident groups,
different stakeholders around
the community to try and create a concept
and create a fix for the
reversible lanes that reflected the interests
and the desires from our
community. The National Park Service’s
previous superintendent and
their current superintendent Bill Cox are a very important
stakeholder in through this
project without their support this project would not be as
far along as it is now. We have been in conversations
with the National Parks since
day one. There is no way to build a
four lane State Route 9 without impacting some portion
of National Park property. That’s why they’ve been
involved. The redesign of this road was
a challenge because of the
narrow corridor, dramatic variations in
topography along the corridor, federal parkland on one side
of the road, an apartment complex sitting on
a 30 to 40 foot cliff on the
other, historic resources in the
corridor, and our residents’
desire for the project to have the smallest footprint
possible while maintaining the tree canopy coming into the
city. -Something we talked about a lot
back when we were doing citizen outreach and public information
open houses in 2011 and 2012 was the introduction of new
trees along this corridor. Our Council directed us to
intentionally widen the median through the National Park
portion of the project in order
for us to install large trees in the
center of the median which is
currently the plan. Ultimately, we’re fitting four
lanes of road with sidewalks,
trails, and several roundabouts through 50 feet of state right
of way, and we’re almost
threading the needle between balancing impacts to one
side of the road and the other. It’s a very challenging project. The design includes several
roundabouts, which will allow
safe access to the commercial properties on
the road and provide pedestrian
crossings for people to safely cross the
street. Roundabouts also result
in a narrower footprint for the
road. Each lane will be 11 feet wide,
which is the narrowest permitted for this state road due to the
varying topography of the area. -If you look at national data,
multi-lane roundabouts drop
accidents by about 50%, and they drop the injuries
associated with those accidents
even more by about 2/3’s. Specific to this project, what
the roundabouts do is enable us to further narrow the footprint
of the road between the
roundabouts. While keeping a narrow footprint
for the project has been a
challenge, the most difficult part of the
project was the State Route 9/
Riverside Road/Azela Road
intersection, but the solution will
dramatically improve traffic
movement. -We talked a lot about how to
solve the operational challenges of that intersection while
minimizing impacts to all four
of those quadrants. Something that was discussed by
our residents was the idea of
preserving our river front, and the idea of driving on Azela
and Riverside and not having a
traffic signal that you have to cross through
State Route 9. The existing traffic signal on
State Route 9 is a congestion
issue. Residents on Riverside have to
sit through multiple cycles of
the signal in order to just turn left or
right on State Route 9. That intersection is
dramatically improved by this
project. We’re actually running State
Route 9 over Azela/Riverside, so that if you’re driving along
our river front, you never have
a traffic signal to go through. As of August 2019, GDOT is 12
months into right-of-way
acquisition for this project and is expects the acquisition
to continue for another 12 to
16 months. Once GDOT finishes right-of-way
acquisition and establishes
construction funding, construction of the project will begin. The project is expected to take
24 months to build. For more in-depth information
about this project, please visit

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