By David Pendered
The state transportation board has chosen a team to build an $840 million network of managed toll lanes along I-75 and I-575 in Cobb and Cherokee counties and open it in 2018.
Essentially, the project amounts to building a separate toll road alongside the existing highways. Traffic will flow south during the morning commute and north during the evening. Funding is scheduled from public and private sources.
This new project of managed toll lanes represents the wave of the future in Georgia’s highway program.
Gov. Nathan Deal has endorsed the concept to relieve traffic in metro Atlanta. The approach seeks to secure money to expand highways at a time funding from local, state and federal sources is not keeping up with mobility demands.
The entire region is now being reviewed by the Georgia Department of Transportation to determine the roads that are best suited for managed lanes.
A priority list of future projects will be created. This review process is now in full speed and is to be finished in the first half of 2014, according to Toby Carr, who was chosen by the governor to decide which transportation projects are funded.
“We are working cooperatively and collaboratively to get the best possible plan put together, with our very limited financial resources and our great human resources,” Carr told GRTA’s board during its April meeting.
Kyle Mote, GDOT’s project manager for managed lanes, told GRTA’s board in April the goals of managed lanes are to: “Protect mobility, maximize throughput, and minimize environmental impact.”
The project approved Tuesday has been dubbed the Northwest Corridor. Its concept has been reviewed since 2002 and a number of iterations have been floated – including one that provided truck-only lanes.
In GDOT’s procurement process, the GDOT board actually has authorized GDOT staff to enter into negotiations aimed at securing a final contract with the winning vendor, Northwest Express Roadbuilders. The company is a joint venture of Archer Western Contractors, LLC, of Atlanta, and Hubbard Construction Company, of Winter Park, Fl. California-based Parsons Transportation Group, Inc., will serve as lead engineering firm from its Atlanta office, according to a GDOT statement.
The current version once was projected to cost nearly $1 billion. An executive summary from NWER says its engineers were able to reduce that cost through methods including the use of:
- An alternate concrete barrier standard;
- An alternative bridge deck design;
- Steel cross frames;
- Bolted field splices in the, “erection of long, multi-span continuous curved steel girder bridges;”
- Alternate alignments at I-75 and I-575, Windy Hill Road, and North Marietta.
The plan calls for managed lanes to be built along 30 miles of highway. Access will be limited and controlled. User fees can be paid with a Peach Pass, the payment program used on other highways and overseen by the State Road and Tollway Authority.
Two lanes are to be built from I-75 at Akers Mill Road, located in Cobb just south of I-285, to the junction of I-575, north of Marietta. This segment is to be built along the western side of the highway.
At the northern junction, the managed lanes project will fork and reduce to one lane in each direction. One segment will continue in the median of I-75 and continue to Hickory Grove Road. The other will continue in the median of I-575 to Sixes Road.
Portions of the project near Marietta will be elevated through a combination of bridges and walled structures. Barriers will separate the segments built on the ground from the existing highways.