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Deadline is Saturday for public comments on planned express lanes along Ga. 400

By David Pendered

Saturday is the deadline for public comments on the executive summary that provides details on the planned six year, $1.3 billion construction project for a network of express lanes that are to reach along Ga. 400 from MARTA’s North Springs Station into Forsyth County.

Details about the proposed design of express lanes along Ga. 400 are included in a video that accompanies the virtual open house GDOT created to explain the project and seek informed public comments about the executive summary. Credit: GDOT

These lanes represent the state’s final big attempt to ease traffic congestion in a corridor of population growth and human development that has exceeded, by far, even the most optimistic of expectations. And the growth shows no signs of ceasing – the population of Forsyth County, for instance, grew by 39% in the past decade, according to a Census estimate.

The corridor of express lanes is to stretch from MARTA’s North Springs Station to a site in Forsyth County located about 0.9 miles north of McFarland Road. The MARTA station is at Exit 5-C and McFarland Road is at Exit 12.

The public comment section culminates a virtual open house established by the Georgia Department of Transportation. The seven-page presentation guides viewers through a set of displays that resemble, in a virtual format, the types of displays that would be set up and staffed at an in-person open house.

After clicking through the presentation, the public is being asked to review a 10-page executive summary and provide comments of up to 1,000 words. The information and response sheet are available at a page made available here by GDOT.

The express lanes along Ga. 400 are to be design and built to accommodate a bus rapid transit, or other transit system, that could be designed, built and funded by another mobility project. Credit: GDOT

This is the document the joint venture partners submitted May 25 to the request for proposals GDOT issued on July 13, 2020.

GDOT intends to categorize each comment and provide responses to each category of responses, GDOT wrote in a June 4 letter posted on the interactive website.

This public comment phase opens the door to respond to the multiple issues addressed in the executive summary. They relate to the capacity of the joint venture chosen to do the work to comply with financial and technical terms of the deal. A few include:

  • Travel delays related to construction – A comprehensive effort to maintain traffic flow of vehicles, pedestrians and bicycles will be created. Three bridges are to be replaced, on Pitts Road, Kimball Bridge Road and Webb Bridge Road. At the appropriate times, GDOT is to help communicate the traffic plan to the public through meetings and websites.
  • Disadvantaged business enterprises – The project and GDOT have a participation goal of 13%. The same team members reached a 14% DBE participation rate when working on the Northwest Corridor Express Lanes, along I-75 and I-575 in Cobb and Cherokee counties. The team currently has a list of more than 250 qualified DBE subcontractors.
  • Transit – The design and construction will provide for transit station and access, in forms that comply with requirements for future MARTA BRT and other transit.
  • Environment – Full-time environmental compliance officers are to audit construction and operations to ensure the project complies with state and federal requirements. On-site environmental staffers are to monitor work done near streams, parks and other sensitive areas.
Ga 400 project map, express lanes

The purple line on this map shows the boundaries of GDOT’s $1.3 billion project to install express lanes along Ga. 400, from MARTA’s North Springs Station to about a mile north of McFarland Road. Credit: GDOT

The following list of planned construction milestones is provided in the executive summary. The dates begin when GDOT provides a notice to proceed and conclude when the project is substantially complete:

  • MARTA station to Holcomb Bridge Road – Jan. 26, 2022 to June 4, 2027.
  • Holcomb Bridge Road to Old Milton Parkway – July 6, 2022 to June 25, 2027.
  • Old Milton Parkway to almost a mile north of McFarland Parkway – July 16, 2027.
  • Planned substantial completion – Aug. 6, 2027.
  • Maintenance – For 35 years after the substantial completion, the private partnership will maintain the roadway to specifications agreed upon by GDOT and the private partnership.

Note to readers: Saturday, July 3 is the deadline to submit public comments to the executive summary that provides details on the private partner’s plan to build express lanes along Ga. 400. Click here to see the presentation and provide a public comment.

David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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1 Comment

  1. Steven Charles July 5, 2021 12:19 pm

    It would’ve been nice to have gotten more than one day’s notice about this. And I hadn’t seen any announcements of this by the DOT anywhere either. This is one of the big complaints I have about the decisions on huge projects, like when the new Braves stadium was suddenly plopped in my neighborhood, with less notice & public meetings than when a local church wants to expand its parking lot.

    I think these for-profit, privately owned & operated “express lanes”, like hiring “private contractors” instead of soldiers, are both examples of services the government should & do handle just as effectively, and at far lesser cost. This is a handout to whatever corporation will construct and profit off this road. GA 400 was built and eventually paid for, just fine, as have the toll lanes on 75 & 85, so why hand it over to a private company, which will obviously result in everyone paying more for it?

    Finally, even the concept of those who can afford it, will save time while driving, is counter-productive. Why replace HOV lanes, which actually serve to both remove more commuters from their cars, and help reduce pollution, with paid express lanes, which do neither, but only benefit those willing to pay for more convenience? And even if they do go the toll route, why not stipulate that these lanes will require more than a single occupant? This is just so wrong…Report


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