MILTON, Ga. — Milton has invoked eminent domain on several properties to advance a major intersection improvement project.
The City Council voted April 12 to begin the condemnation process on four parcels near the junction of Hopewell Road, Bethany Bend and Bethany Way that will allow the city to move forward on constructing a roundabout and new turning lanes.
Condemning property is uncommon in Milton — it has only invoked eminent domain about a dozen times since the city incorporated. However, the city says it needs to make the move to keep the project on track at an area that suffers daily congestion.
The city has come to terms with two homeowners on a purchase price for easements and right of way, but outside delays have forced Milton to condemn the property to maintain its timeline. In both instances, the homeowners’ lenders have not given their final approval. These two properties include about one-quarter of an acre of right of way, plus temporary construction and driveway easements. The city listed the appraised value of the right of way on the two properties at about $225,000.
Milton has invoked eminent domain on two other parcels, owned by the same person, while negotiations continue. Right of way for the two parcels totals 0.065 acres, and the city lists the appraised value at $26,000. According to the city documents, the owner and city have not been able to come to an agreement on an “acceptable resolution.”
“Negotiations are continuing, but the construction bids have been received, and the timeline to secure the land needed is critical,” the document states.
These right of way acquisitions are the latest step in the city’s move to improve traffic flow at the intersection that is regularly congested during peak travel times.
Most of the city’s recent traffic projects have been relatively straightforward, but the Hopewell Road, Bethany Way and Bethany Bend intersection presents unique challenges. The three roadways do not meet at a single point. Complicating matters further, the Bethany Oaks subdivision entrance lies along Hopewell between the two “Bethany” roads.
Milton officials began studying ways to improve traffic in the area as far back as 2013, but they intensified the effort in 2017.
Among the several proposals considered, the city opted to construct a single roundabout at Bethany Bend with a left turn lane along Bethany Way onto Hopewell Road. A left turn lane on Hopewell at Bethany Way is also included in the project with a median.
Travelers exiting the Bethany Oaks subdivision can either turn right or left onto Hopewell Road. A median strip will be constructed in front of the neighborhood that will ease left turns onto Hopewell.
The project will be funded through the Transportation Special Purpose Local-Option Sales Tax Milton voters approved in 2016.
A push to continue the optional sales tax is currently underway with the 2016 levy set to expire next March. Officials from the 14 Fulton County cities outside of Atlanta are hashing out options to add a referendum to the November General Election ballot that would allow voters to decide on renewing the sales tax.
At a meeting of Fulton County officials earlier this month, Fulton County Commission Chairman Robb Pitts charged cities with developing a list of projects they would fund with TSPLOST dollars if the tax is renewed.
The Hopewell Road, Bethany Bend and Bethany Way project was listed as a top priority for Milton’s 2016 TSPLOST project list.