“I see it as a transformational project for the city,” said Mayor Jere Wood.
In a bold move, Roswell staff has come up with a design that reconfigures the intersection of Canton Street, Hwy. 9 and Magnolia Street and establishes a sizable island of walkable public space by routing Ga. Hwy 9 up and over a pedestrian walkway from City Hall to Canton Street.
“The plan gives us an opportunity to make the area more cohesive, bridge some of the gaps to more seamlessly connect the Canton Street area with the Groveway area, make walking the district easier, create more public gathering space and usable park area and help economic development at our core that we can build on throughout the city,” said Councilwoman Nancy Diamond, council liaison to community development.
The seed of the idea was planted when planning firm Duany Plater Zybek undertook the development of a Historic Gateway transportation plan for Atlanta Street and looked at possible land uses along the corridor.
“They ended up adding a really interesting idea for the City Hall/Canton Street entrance area, which included making the triangle park a larger, square, kind of roundabout,” Diamond said.
DPZ suggested rerouting some roads to create a large civic square on Ga. Hwy. 9 in front of City Hall.
“While it got a lot of us excited about what it could do for the area, our engineers brought us back to reality with the limitations it would put on traffic,” Diamond said.
Roswell Transportation Director Steve Acenbrak said while the DPZ concept was “very cool and out of the box, it is essentially unworkable in practicality.” Traffic volume and the multiple turns necessary to navigate the square would conflict, he said.
“But it inspired us, and the transportation engineers being the innovators that they are, started working on designing an alternative that would bring in the features that we liked and solve the transportation issues,” Diamond said.
City transportation staff came up with what Acenbrak termed “a concept at a very high level” that would actually make traffic flow better in the area than it does now.
“Steve Acenbrak’s team is often impressive, and this is one of their best works,” Diamond said.
Because almost all of the property involved is owned by the city, she said, it could happen in a reasonable amount of time
“It’s special enough to make us on council hold out some of our bonding capacity for now and spend some time vetting this out with the public,” Diamond said.
Depending on what funds might come from state or other sources, construction could cost less than $10 million, Acenbrak said. Still in the very early stages, the concept is being reviewed now by land use experts who are helping refine the draft. It will be presented at a council work session on Aug. 27.