By David Pendered
The Georgia Department of Transportation on Thursday is slated to announce the apparent winner of the competitive bid to build the most expensive highway project in state history – the $1.1 billion reconstruction of the interchange at Ga. 400 and I-285.
Meg Pirkle, GDOT’s chief engineer, is scheduled to deliver the presentation at the morning meeting of the board that oversees GDOT. Four companies have submitted bids to participate in the $1.1 billion public-private partnership that is responsible for funding the project that’s expected to take 51 months to complete.
Though the project is generally viewed as catering to car crazy metro Atlanta, the region’s two largest transit providers are pinning hopes for their expansion on the roadway expansion.
GRTA expects that improved travel times through the interchange will enable Xpress buses to provide service that’s more frequent and reliable than now possible from north Fulton and Cumming to three major job centers: Perimeter business district, Midtown, and Downtown Atlanta. Improved trip times should result in higher ridership, GRTA planners anticipate.
In addition, GRTA’s long-range plans call for starting new routes to the Perimeter district from Cumming, Cobb and Gwinnett counties. Buses are to traverse the new lanes to be built as part of the interchange’s reconstruction.
MARTA is considering three options to extend service north along the Ga. 400 corridor. One option would have bus rapid transit (BRT) operate in the managed lanes GDOT intends to build along Ga. 400.
MARTA’s two other options include a heavy rail system, which to date is the locally preferred alternative. It would begin at the North Springs Station, cross to the west side of Ga. 400 south of Spalding Drive, and cross Ga. 400 again at a point somewhere north of the Chattahoochee River. Planners have not yet determined where the rail line would cross the river. The third option is a BRT line that would operate along this rail route.
Here are some details of the project, which may have been lost over time. This information is from GDOT’s description of the project. The project actually consists of two constrution programs. Incidentally, GDOT refers to Ga. 400 as State Route (SR) 400:
- “The proposed improvements will be provided along I-285 from west of Roswell Road in Fulton County to east of Ashford-Dunwoody Road in DeKalb County (4.3 miles), and along SR 400 from Glenridge Connector to Spalding Drive (6.2 miles), for a total project length of 10.5 miles.”
- “Project P.I. No. 0000784 proposes new eastbound and westbound CD [collector distributor] lanes along I-285, as well as northbound and southbound CD lanes along SR 400, new flyover bridges, reconstruction of existing ramps, and widening of existing bridges within the interchange.
- “’Braided’ ramps would be constructed in the vicinity of Ashford Dunwoody Road and Roswell Road to eliminate conflicts between traffic entering and exiting SR 400 and traffic entering and exiting the Roswell Road and Ashford Dunwoody interchanges, while preserving the recently completed projects at both of these interchanges.
- “Along SR 400, the project would construct improvements from Glenridge Connector to Hammond Drive. This work would tie into the adjacent SR 400 CD lanes project (P.I. No. 721850-).
“An Environmental Assessment (EA)/Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) reflecting this preliminary design was approved on May 19, 2015.
- “Project P.I. No. 721850- proposes new northbound and southbound CD lanes along SR 400 from Hammond Drive to just north of Spalding Drive.
- The new CD lanes would tie into proposed improvements at the I-285/SR 400 interchange (P.I. No. 0000784).
- “The existing bridge over SR 400 at Mount Vernon Road would be replaced to accommodate improvements on SR 400 underneath.
- “New northbound and southbound bridges would be constructed to carry the CD lanes over Abernathy Road and to provide separated ramp movements in the area between Abernathy Road and Hammond Drive.
- “The existing SR 400/Abernathy Road interchange would be reconstructed as a Diverging Diamond Interchange.
- “A re-evaluation of the existing EA/FONSI reflecting this preliminary design was approved on May 21, 2015.”
GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry had this to say about the project in a statement issued in October:
- “We are excited to be able to move this priority project forward on the targeted schedule and are eager to review the solutions these teams have captured in their proposals. Our shortlist contains four well-qualified teams, and we look forward to selecting the one that will bring the overall best value to Georgia travelers and commuters in an area that is critical to Georgia’s economy.”
These are the four teams competing for the project:
AWH Roadbuilders, LLC
- Contractors: Archer Western Contractors LLC and Hubbard Construction Engineer: Parsons
- Contractors: Dragados USA Inc, Flat Iron Constructors Inc, Prince Engineers: Figg Bridge Engineering, Stantec Consulting Services Inc
North Perimeter Contractors
- Contractor: Ferrovial Agroman US Corp
Engineers: The Louis Berger Group Inc, Neel-Shaffer
Skanska/Balfour Beatty, a Joint Venture
- Contractors: Skanska, Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Inc Engineer: Atkins