Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Milton signs off on regional transportation plan.

By Patrick Fox
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Milton City Council gave its OK to a billion-dollar regional transportation plan to be used as a map for road improvements in north Fulton County.

Milton becomes the first of north Fulton County's six cities presenting a single regional plan intended to help solve traffic snarls that bleed across their borders. Funding for the projects will come from federal, state and local sources.

"We have already started looking for the funding for these projects," said Regan Hammond, principal planner with the Atlanta Regional Commission's transportation planning division.

The cities approached the Atlanta Regional Commission last year seeking help in solving traffic woes. They hope cooperating will increase funding, since the plan focuses on regional problems that affect more than 300,000 people.

North Fulton's effort is part of a metrowide transportation plan being compiled by the ARC, officially recognized as the region's planning agency. The ARC expects to submit the final plan to the federal government by July 2011.

The plan is based on what can be reasonably expected in funding over the next 25 years.

A private company, Kimley-Horn and Associates, was hired to coordinate the process in north Fulton. Federal funds cover 80 percent of the $1.25 million price tag for the study. Sandy Springs, Roswell, Johns Creek, Milton and Alpharetta split the rest of the cost; Mountain Park, with only 500 people, didn't have to pay.

The work collects information such as crash rates and traffic counts to elevate some projects to qualify for federal dollars. Those that don't make the cut often end up vying for additional state money, all in a bid to make roads safer and commutes shorter and, sometimes, to provide alternatives such as bike and walking paths.

ARC is slated to do a separate plan for south Fulton next year.

If all the cities approve the plan as expected, it will be two years before most of the projects could begin. Major projects, such as widening Hammond Drive in Sandy Springs and McGinnis Ferry Road in Johns Creek, would take several more years.

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