Hammond’s New Ramp – A Cost Perspective

Yesterday the Georgia DOT opened two new ramps onto GA-400 at Hammond Drive. The opening marks the completion of a $17 million project begun in 2008.

Early in my career I spent a few years working at the Concourse office park, right next to the king and queen buildings. It was a miserable experience. Half my commute was spent on the surface streets of Sandy Springs before even getting onto GA-400. Oh how I would have loved this on-ramp back then.

Allow me to use this occasion to put the money into perspective. When you start throwing millions of dollars around, the scale tends to get distorted.

$17 million is going to go a long way towards helping traffic in Sandy Springs. It’ll also save a ton of time for many folks commuting there from north Fulton and Forsyth.

On the flip side, the proposed T-SPLOST would fund a MARTA extension to Holcomb Bridge at a staggering cost of $839 million. This is without factoring in cost over-runs, which are almost certain for a transit project like this.

How many projects on the scale of a Hammond Road project could be funded for that kind of cash? Nearly fifty if my math is correct. Would you like Rucker Road widened? How about Windward, Kimball Bridge, McGinnis Ferry or Highway 9? Pick about fifty of them to trade for a few miles of MARTA track.

Remember that the Dunwoody/Sandy Springs area already has four MARTA stations, yet their surface streets are hopelessly clogged morning, noon and night. For the small price of $17 million, thousands of cars will be removed from roads like Peachtree Dunwoody, Barfield and Abernathy.

There’s plenty of low hanging fruit left to be harvested. Let’s get to picking!

Photo Credit: Markhoward (creative commons)

 

14 Responses to “Hammond’s New Ramp – A Cost Perspective”

  1. Kim September 3, 2011 at 5:48 pm #

    “Remember that the Dunwoody/Sandy Springs area already has four MARTA stations, yet their surface streets are hopelessly clogged morning, noon and night. “

    But how can that be? High density and rail are the answer to all our problems. Like magic. I distinctly remember Council arguing that traffic would actually improve when MetLife/Peridot builds their 450 condos + retail + hotel + office at Haynes Bridge and 400.

    You know what else is really funny? We are not talking about widening roads, but narrowing them! Haynes Bridge goes to two lane by the City Center, and SR9 is narrowed downtown. Milton wants to add traffic friction to Crabapple. With traffic stretching back to the silos every morning, I can’t wait to see what it looks like next year when have of Roswell redistricts into Milton HS.

    You eviiiil people with you cars!

  2. Kim September 3, 2011 at 5:48 pm #

    *your* cars.

  3. Mike September 3, 2011 at 9:13 pm #

    Kim,

    Let me help you here.

    No one argued that “traffic would improve” if MetLife built their proposed mixed use project at Haynes Bridge and 400. The traffic studies — and common sense — indicated that there would be LESS traffic by cutting the already-approved office density by more than 500,000 square feet and the retail by about 50,000 square feet.

    Also, Haynes Bridge is “overdesigned” at four lanes now at Academy. Highway 9 will remain at four lanes, no change. All of this is predicated on the opening of Westside Parkway, which will open in 2012 and add much more capacity to the north/south flow of traffic.

  4. Kim September 3, 2011 at 11:24 pm #

    Mike,
    I still don’t buy the MetLife argument. Common sense doesn’t tell me that. Office traffic is focused during predictable times whereas residential and retail are spread out through the day.

    Westside is great and needs to be done but it serves a small fraction of the people who would otherwise be using Haynes Bridge or SR9. It will basically serve those who live right off Westside or between Westside and 400. No one in their right mind would take Westside to go further north into Forsyth. There are too many traffic lights on SR9. I know because I traveled to downtown Cumming during the evening rush hour once a week last year. 400 is always faster, even with heavy traffic. Also those who live in Milton and Cherokee County are not served by Westside.

    Regarding Haynes Bridge over-design, I thought the main goal of the 29M we are spending on downtown was to make it more vibrant and bring more people downtown, no? You don’t think we might grow into whatever little extra capacity we supposedly have on Haynes Bridge? That seems rather short-sighted to me.

  5. Kim September 4, 2011 at 1:41 am #

    @Lee,
    Politics of Traffic Calming
    http://www.adcblog.org/blog/?p=2051

  6. Kim September 4, 2011 at 1:42 am #

    Oops. Meant to post this under your LCI post, but probably works equally well here.

  7. Mike September 4, 2011 at 11:30 am #

    A significant percentage of rush hour traffic on Highway 9 and Haynes Bridge through downtown is traffic headed to/from Milton or Cherokee County.

    The city wants Main Street (hopefully Highway 9 will be moved to Westside) and Haynes Bridge to serve primarily local residents who either live in the area or are coming downtown to enjoy shops and restaurants. We want cut-through traffic (people whose only interest is getting home to Milton or Canton faster) to take Westside or 400.

  8. Kim September 4, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    Mike,
    As much as I appreciate the desire to “calm” the downtown area so that it is more walkable (I want that too), we have to live with reality.

    Westside and 400 does not serve Milton/Birmingham/Canton very well due to the lack of east/west connectivity. Those people have to somehow get over to Providence, Bethany, Freemanville, and Birmingham Highway. The intersection at Westside and Windward is horribly congested because of all the high density in the Deerfield area. Not only is Windward west of 400 continually congested, it just doesn’t give good connectivity over to those areas I mentioned without quite a bit of backtracking and many twists and turns.

    As nice as it would be to disallow our streets for non-residents, that is just not realistic. My fear is that those people who are already using Haynes Bridge and SR9 are going to continue to do so, thereby creating more frustration for everyone who has to use those streets.

    I really do hope you prove me wrong here, but I do hope you are building in a contingency for re-widening Haynes Bridge because I think you are going to need it at some point in the future.

  9. Greg September 6, 2011 at 10:15 am #

    Lee, are you similarly against the half billion dollar improvement project for the 285/400 interchange?

  10. Raj September 6, 2011 at 10:30 am #

    A completed Westside Parkway would most cetrainly would serve me well, and I live in the southern part of Milton. After the intersection with Windward (which is not all that bad by the way, I’ve never sat through more than a single red light), one can continue on to Deerfield, and then past that, easy access to all of Milton is available via Bethany Bend. This beats the traffic horrors of Northside Parkway at Old Milton, and Georgia 400 any day of the week. If would just pave the last 100 ft strip and let me travel on it, I’ll be a happy camper.

  11. Lee September 6, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

    @Greg – I’ve not looked at the specifics of the 285/400 interchange project. I just don’t want to spend a billion on MARTA when there are dozens of road projects that would give a greater lift.

    Or put another way… I’d rather have two massive interstate interchange overhauls over a few miles of MARTA track.

  12. a.e. mayer September 6, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    I’m trying to figure out if I could agree more, and the answer is no. Sinking more cash into Marta is a waste. Sadly, people in our area mostly just use it for the airport or games (probably because it’s not a great way to get from A to B). There are countless traffic improvement projects that could seriously benefit the area, would be shorter to complete, and make a heck of a lot more sense than Marta. Get ‘em, Lee!

  13. Greg September 6, 2011 at 10:20 pm #

    Here’s an interesting article. Essentially, it says commuter rail doesn’t ease traffic, but neither does road widening.

    http://www.politifact.com/georgia/statements/2011/sep/06/chip-rogers/does-commuter-rail-ease-traffic/

  14. Kim September 7, 2011 at 9:34 pm #

    @Raj, That is great news… for me, at least. I do hope that I am proven wrong b/c we sure could use the traffic relief over this way.

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