Construction on the $15.4 million Rucker project—which included adding two roundabouts; narrowing travel lanes; providing sidewalks on both sides of the roadway; and adding aesthetic features, such as trees and planted medians—began in 2017, spanning from Wills Road west to the Alpharetta city limits, just past Spring Place Lane.
According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the city of Alpharetta’s population nearly doubles during working hours, totaling more than 122,000 in daytime population while the total number of residents sits at 66,263 as of 2018. Drinkard said much of this inflow comes from Cherokee County, located northwest of Alpharetta, using Rucker as one route to the city.
“Rucker, which was never intended to be a key arterial, started carrying that kind of load. It puts a lot of strain on an infrastructure running right through a ton of neighborhoods,” he said.
Some Rucker neighborhood residents have expressed concerns about a loss in quality of life and safety due to road construction and increased traffic, including Clifford Martin, a Rucker neighborhood resident who spoke during public comment at an Alpharetta City Council meeting Feb. 3.
While drivers can currently use Rucker, final landscaping and lighting installments should be complete by April or May, barring inclement weather or other construction delays, Drinkard said.
“Three years ago, as part of the Rucker Road project, all the trees, shrubs and other vegetation on the right of way were removed,” Martin said during the meeting. “[Construction has] also removed the safety barrier that kept vehicles out of our yards. It removed the sound barriers that lowered growth noise levels, and it removed the sight barriers that gave those of us along the roadway some privacy.”
Drinkard said the process of improving Rucker shaped and changed city officials’ overall philosophy on how they handle transportation projects, particularly with neighborhood collectors such as Rucker.
A neighborhood collector is a roadway classification, meaning the road is designed to collect traffic from inside neighborhoods along the corridor and send it to an arterial road—or a major thoroughfare, such as Old Milton Parkway, Haynes Bridge Road and Georgia 400.
“When you’re doing a construction project, there are these long periods of time where there may be things happening and the public can’t see it. There’s also periods of time where you’re just sitting there waiting on utility companies to move their utilities,” Drinkard said. “There were these long periods of silence [with Rucker], which just adds to the frustration, so we definitely learned from that.”