Marietta CID Project Designed To Improve Looks of Interchange

Marietta Daily Journal - August 8, 2016

By Emily Selby

The exit ramps at Interstate 75 and South Marietta Parkway recently got a facelift with the Gateway Marietta Community Improvement District’s landscaping project, which is now complete.

The project cost about $220,000 and is the first step in a larger landscaping plan, according to Joe Knight, a co-founder of Strategic City Partners, a consulting firm hired by the CID to run the day-to-day operations of the CID.

Knight said the CID chose those exits to landscape because they act as “the gateway of the city.”

“We want to make it look as nice as we possibly can,” he said. “When you look at the (Interstate) 75 corridor, you’ve got the Cumberland area which has really nice landscaped exits and then when you go north, to the Town Center area, they also have really nice landscaped exits. If you’re a visitor or someone thinking about moving to the area, you might drive right by Delk or South Marietta Parkway just because the exits don’t look very nice. So, we’re trying to make the area look attractive and get more people coming to Marietta.”

Winter Designs, a landscape architecture and land planning design firm, designed the Cumberland and Town Center exits, and Principal and Owner Josh Winter said he was happy to work with the Gateway Marietta CID.

Designs for the project took several months as the firm had to adhere to GDOT guidelines and get the designs permitted.

“You’re kind of limited, so you have to be creative with how you (design) it on the shapes and forms. That’s where we really stand apart,” said Winter. “For example, the big circular off-ramp — we’re just accentuating the circle on that one. We’re not trying to press our design on the land as opposed to just trying to marry the two.”

The types of plants are also regulated for various reasons, including not blocking nearby billboards, and Winter said hardy, non-invasive plant species were planted for the landscaping project to withstand intense sun, rain and drought.

Maintenance on the landscaping should be minimal, according to Winter, who added that despite little upkeep, the landscaping will still be aesthetically pleasing.

“There’s always going to be a certain level of maintenance on anything in the landscape realm, but we do it in such a way that we allow the natural tendencies of the tree, shrub or grass to do what it’s supposed to without hindering it too much with maintenance.”

Construction on the project started in June and was finished just a few weeks ago.

The completion of this project is just phase one of a larger plan to landscape other quadrants of the exits that will span over the next few years, according to Knight.

“We’ll start another phase hopefully this winter or spring, and then we can’t complete the rest until probably 2017 because of the construction on the northwest corridor with all of those reversible lanes,” he said.

Knight estimated the cost of the entire landscaping project to be about $1.2 million, but that number varies based on the price of plants from year to year.

“Because we’re a small CID, and we have the money to do it all at once, we didn’t want a big grant from GDOT to help with the cost, so we’re still going to have to break it up over a couple of years.”

Winter said his company has already designed, detailed and permitted the plans for the other interchanges in the project.

The Gateway Marietta Community Improvement District recently completed a project to improve the landscaping at the South Marietta Parkway exit on Interstate 75. Picture above are, from left, Joe Knight, co-founder of consulting firm Strategic City Partners, which has been hired to run the day-to-day operations of the CID; board members Milton Dortch, Bob Morgan, Roger Davis, board chair Jeff Shaw, and landscape architect Josh Winter, who designed the landscaping at the interchange. / Staff-Kelly J. Huff

Joe Knight