Residents of Buckhead’s Paces neighborhood are urging opposition to a plan to add a ramp from I-75 directly onto Howell Mill Road.

A Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) plan calls for connecting I-75’s Exit 255 at Northside Parkway to Howell Mill via a U-shaped “slip ramp.” The ramp would bypass the intersections of Northside and Howell Mill. A public comment period on the plan runs through Nov. 14.

GDOT claims in a presentation that the ramp is needed to lessen collisions and backups at the Northside Parkway intersection both now and following future development. The Paces Civic Association (PCA) is among neighborhood groups saying there’s no evidence the Howell Mill ramp would help, and they’re concerned about stormwater runoff. 

“This project is proposed to relieve the existing excessive vehicular congestion, reduce traffic crashes, and prepare for an increase in vehicular and pedestrian traffic of a quickly developing portion of the City of Atlanta,” says a GDOT presentation.

“The proposed project would cause substantial harm to our community due to the tremendous amount of water that would be routed into Nancy Creek/Peachtree Creek,” said Marie Macadam, the PCA’s vice president of community planning, in a Nov. 4 email to members. “Properties adjacent to these waterways would inevitably incur substantially more flooding than currently exists. In addition, the already bad sewer spills experienced on some lots could multiply as well.”

Community groups rejected a similar proposal in 2020, the PCA says, amid concerns the ramp really was intended to serve nearby private development. The PCA did not respond to a comment request about that.

“This is the same project that we defeated in 2020,” Macadam said in the email. “Our goal is to defeat the project again. To achieve that goal, we need support from all the neighborhoods and neighbors, even those that are not directly impacted.”

A GDOT spokesperson could not immediately comment on the development claim and the stormwater concerns. GDOT’s presentation includes general information about the agency’s standards for handling stormwater.

GDOT says the project would cost $600,000 and is slated for construction in fiscal year 2025. 

Comments can be sent to GDOT through Nov. 14 at this link.

The ramp proposal comes as GDOT recently drew controversy with another, much larger plan near Buckhead: widenings, pedestrian access features and other changes to a long stretch of Northside Drive roughly between I-20 at Atlanta University Center and I-75 on the Buckhead border.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens joined Atlanta City Council Representatives Howard Shook and Mary Norwood, along with other officials on November 11, 2022 to officially break ground on the last major piece of the PATH400 Greenway. This northernmost section will continue the existing PATH from Wieuca Road to Loridans Drive, and connects PATH400 to Mountain Way Common. 

Denise Starling, executive director of Livable Buckhead, has been the lead on the PATH400 project from its inception, and she is excited to get this last piece underway. “We are thrilled to kick off construction on the last major section of PATH400 as it was originally envisioned in Buckhead,” she said on Thursday. “This section connects directly to Mountain Way Common, a park that neighbors have worked for years to develop. Creating pedestrian and bike-friendly connections between parks in Buckhead was one of the central purposes for building PATH400, and we’re excited to deliver on that promise with this new segment.” 

The new project is expected to take 2 years to complete, at a cost of $12.8 million. The Wieuca-Loridans segment is funded through federal and local government funds, including approximately $8.8 million from transportation improvement project funds administered by the Atlanta Regional Commission and $3.8 million from the City of Atlanta’s TSPLOST funds with additional funding for design contributed by the Buckhead Community Improvement District (BCID).

Mayor Dickens spoke about the importance of green spaces in the community, as well as the economic benefits. “PATH400–a $12.8 million investment made possible by TSPLOST and Federal funding—is part of a growing trail network that can eventually serve as a valuable economic development tool for our city and the region,” said Mayor Dickens. “Trails like PATH400 help make Atlanta a healthier city, providing accessible and equitable opportunities for exercise and recreation.”

Be sure to check out our preview of the new PATH400 section form our tour with Denise Starling last year.