GDOT adds two years to I-285 projects, cuts time for truck project on I-75 South to Macon
By David Pendered
The state’s new highway construction schedule in metro Atlanta adds two years to the overall completion date – now early 2032. It extends the timeline for toll lanes on westside and eastside I-285 by two to four years, and cuts the schedule by more than a year on a stretch of I-75 south to Macon that’s often ridden by tractor-trailer traffic.
The revision in scheduling does not add or remove any projects, according to a spokesman for the Georgia Department of Transportation. The revision represents changes made as the state continues to collaborate with partners in its design-build program.
This approach intends to hasten construction by allowing construction to begin on part of a project while design continues on other portions. The result is that timelines for specific tasks can shift within a bigger project. GDOT used a similar approach to build toll lanes along the Northwest Corridor, prompting a positive review in April from bond rating entity Moody’s Investors Service.
Here’s how Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry characterized the revision in a statement released Monday:
- “Advancing these improvement projects, which were already part of the MMIP [construction program], will bring improvements to our region and local communities sooner and help mitigate disruptive construction congestion during the major express lanes’ construction.”
The difficulty stems, in part, from the very nature of the revision. An entirely new category is included in the revision released Monday – “I-285 Advanced Improvement Projects.”
The project lists includes bridge replacements over railroad tracks and roads along westside I-285, and collector-distributor lanes along I-285 between Ashford Dunwoody and Chamblee Dunwoody roads. These specific projects did not appear on the construction schedule dated July 3.
Three clear cases in metro Atlanta involve delaying express lanes along two portions of I-285, and expediting lanes along I-75 intended to handle tractor-trailer rigs:
- I-285 westside, express lanes from I-20 to Paces Ferry Road. Previous completion date – End of 2027. New completion date – End of first quarter, 2032.
- I-285 eastside, express lanes from Henderson Road to I-20. Previous completion date – End of 2026. New completion date – End of 2028.
- I-75 southside, commercial vehicle lanes between Ga. 155, near McDonough, and I-475 near Macon, which is the confluence of the truck corridors that connect to Florida and the Port of Savannah. Previous completion date – Mid 2030. New completion date: End of 2028.
The new schedules for projects on the Top End Perimeter have attracted discussion.
That’s due in part to concerns expressed by an array of governments related to GDOT’s estimated $800 million Transform 285/400 project. Officials continue to ask GDOT to tweak a project that addresses a total of 10.5 miles of I-285, Ga. 400 and a collector-distributor system that’s part of the project.
Three of the six projects in the new category added by GDOT are on the northern stretch of the Perimeter:
- I-285 Westbound Collector-Distributor Lanes. Ashford Dunwoody Road to Chamblee Dunwoody Road. Completion date: Third quarter, 2023;
- I-285/Peachtree Industrial Boulevard Interchange Improvements. Completion date: End of 2023;
- I-285 Westbound Auxiliary Lane Extension. Extending auxiliary lane from Roswell Road to Riverside Drive, and replacing the Mount Vernon Highway bridge over I-285. Completion date: Third quarter, 2024.