SR 400 Encore Parkway Concept

Alpharetta Proposes Changes To GA400 Express Lanes Concepts

Released August 30, 2019 09:17 AM

The City of Alpharetta has sent correspondence to the Georgia Department of Transportation requesting that the agency alter plans for its GA400 Express Lanes Project through the city.  In a letter issued this week, Mayor Jim Gilvin outlines several alternative concepts; including the removal of the controversial Webb+ Concept.

The move comes after months of public meetings and analysis of traffic data all focused on determining to what degree the Georgia Department of Transportation’s (GDOT) plans for location of dedicated exits and merge points for the planned express lanes on Georgia 400 would impact Alpharetta’s surface streets.  Shortly after GDOT’s plans for the project were first unveiled in March of this year, Alpharetta officials began expressing concerns that GDOT’s designs were likely to drive significant increases on local roads that are already at or above capacity during peak commute times but offered no solutions or support for handling that increased volume.

“Approximately 41% of the project span is within our community, so the strategic implementation of the GA400 Express Lanes Project and location of access and merge points along the corridor will set the course for transportation on our local roads, impact land use within our community, and do much to determine the future quality of life for the residents of Alpharetta for generations,” Mayor Gilvin said.

Among the most concerning aspects of the State’s proposal was a plan to create a dedicated access ramp for the GA400 Express Lanes just north of Webb Bridge Road that would connect drivers to and from North Point and Westside Parkways.  The concept, which came to be known as Webb+, drew loud cries from Alpharetta residents and consternation from Alpharetta elected officials concerned over impacts to nearby neighborhoods as commuters used two-lane neighborhood collector streets to connect to the regional arterial.

In his August 27 letter to GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry, Mayor Gilvin recommended doing away with the Webb+ Concept; instead creating a dedicated direct access interchange At Encore Parkway.  Completed in August 2017, the new bridge at Encore Parkway was designed with the expansion of GA400 in mind and could, with relatively minor modification, be configured to be the primary access point to and from the GA400 Express Lanes in Alpharetta, the City argues.  At the same time, City officials point out that the Encore Parkway location would provide better connections to regional destinations like the Ameris Bank Amphitheater and North Point Mall.

The second key element of the City’s proposed alternatives would be the creation of a dedicated flyover just south of the Old Milton Parkway interchange to support MARTA’s planned expansion of transit services via Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).

“This location, close in proximity to key destinations like Avalon and the Gwinnett Tech Campus, provides much better regional connectivity due to the ability to connect the resulting transit node to a regional east/west arterial (State Route 120 / Old Milton Parkway; thus bringing the potential for much higher transit ridership rates than could be achieved through the flyover included in the current concept,” the Mayor states in his letter.  “Further, given current plans and discussions regarding the potential expansion of State Route 120, a transit node at this location would have far less impact on local surface roads, further improving mobility.”

Other ideas the City proposes to GDOT include moving a full direct merge point providing access to and from the express lanes to a location just south of Windward Parkway from the State’s current proposed location near Haynes Bridge Road.  The merge point would allow drivers already on Georgia 400 to move between the regular travel lanes and the new express lanes.  Another idea advocated by the City would move a currently proposed BRT transit stop from the middle of Georgia 400 just north of Encore Parkway to an offline location at or adjacent to North Point Mall; possibly accessed from the proposed dedicated interchange at Encore Parkway.

“We are confident that these ideas will advance the project within its current timeline, provide an overall reduction in costs, and result in a project that improves mobility in a manner that best serves our community and the entire region,” Mayor Gilvin stated.