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Roswell bartering with feds to axe reversible lane
by Joan Durbin
jdurbin@neighbornewspapers.com
December 05, 2012 05:37 PM | 2229 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It’s just 1.1 acres of land on South Atlanta Street, but to Roswell officials it’s a key piece of the city’s ambitious plan to eliminate the reversible lane on the heavily traveled roadway.

The sliver of property, roughly from Warm Springs Circle to the Chattahoochee River, belongs to the National Parks Service.

That agency is willing to hand it over to Roswell for free, but there are some significant strings attached.

The NPS has submitted a list of projects it would like Roswell to take on in exchange for the land.

The list includes constructing new trails into the federal property on both sides of Vickery Creek, restoring the Ivy Mill ruins and putting in a boardwalk trail to the site, building a new pedestrian bridge across Vickery Creek inside NPS property and incorporating expensive architectural features in two new bridges planned on Riverside Drive across the creek to Atlanta Street.

Additionally, the Park Service is asking that the city build a new parking lot to serve the historic Allenwood site. The proposed lot would not be within park boundaries and the deal would be contingent on its acquisition.

Last week, in a transportation committee meeting, Roswell council members said the city should counter with its own list of outstanding permits and projects it wants from NPS.

“They want quite a bit for that right of way,” said Councilman Jerry Orlans.

“I think we need to tie in all the loose ends with NPS when we’re dealing with them.”

“These are things we’ve been asking for a long time,” said Councilman Kent Igleheart. “I think we should push as hard as we can.”

Among those items are go-aheads needed to extend the Riverwalk.

“We have been patiently working with numerous NPS staff for approval since June of 2007 on the extension of the Roswell Riverwalk which runs from the intersection of Azalea Drive and Willeo Road to the traffic signal at the Chattahoochee Nature Center,” said Jeff Pruitt, Roswell’s administrator for park services.

“Likewise, at NPS request, plans for Phase V of the Roswell Riverwalk, which picks up from there and extends to the Cobb County line at our Willeo Park, were submitted for approval at the same time.”

After the committee meeting, Roswell Transportation Director Steve Acenbrak said the federal agency’s proposal is clear. “This is the price of the land. It’s bartering. It’s a horse trade.”

According to the Park Service’s estimate, the new pedestrian bridge alone could cost around $200,000. Other costs, such as the desired architectural features on the traffic bridges on Riverside Road, can’t yet be quantified, Acenbrak said.

While Roswell had already planned to install the new traffic bridges as part of its Historic Gateway Plan, items like building a parking for the NPS near Allenwood or a new pedestrian bridge on Park Service land are not direct benefits to all Roswell citizens, he said.

But “right now it sits well with me that these are reasonable requests on their part for what they are prepared to give up,” Acenbrak said.
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