By David Pendered
Priced at about $1 billion, the reconstruction of the interchange of I-285 and Ga. 400 is to cost almost a third of some estimates for building the $3.6 billion transit system envisioned for the Atlanta Streetcar and Atlanta BeltLine.
Placing those two figures side-by-side illustrates the enormous sums of money contemplated to maintain, if not improve, mobility in and around the city of Atlanta.
Atlanta’s planned transit systems are unfunded, for the most part. They’re intended to serve the city’s growing population, and those who live elsewhere and want to work or play in the urban core.
The I-285/Ga. 400 project is funded, as a public/private partnership. It is intended to improve safety and efficiency at one of the state’s busiest intersections.
GRTA has high hopes for the reconstructed interchange.
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.
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
The interchange project is expected to complement two transportation projects completed with significant financial support from the Perimeter Community Improvements Districts.
The PCIDs provided funds that hastened the openings of the half-diamond interchange at Hammond Drive and Ga. 400, which provided the first new access point to Ga. 400 in the Atlanta area since 1993. The second project, the Perimeter Center Parkway bridge over I-285, created a link between the medical facilities and office towers south of I-285 and the commercial district north of I-285.
Partners in the interchange reconstruction include U.S. DOT, GDOT, the state of Georgia, Atlanta Regional Commission, and PCIDs. The private sector will participate in funding because the project is to be awarded as a design-build-finance partnership.
Incidentally, PCIDs represents two CIDs – the Fulton Perimeter CID, and the Central (DeKalb) CID. CIDs raise funds through an additional property tax levied on commercial properties within their boundaries.
The state is completing the intergovernmental agreements necessary to start reconstruction of the I-285/Ga. 400 interchange, possibly next summer. The entire project is slated to open in 2020, following a construction period expected to last 51 months.
The board that oversees the state Department of Transportation voted June 18 for a joint resolution, with the State Road and Tollway Authority, that enables the project to move forward.
According to a GDOT statement, the resolution addresses details including:
- Authorizes the project to advance;
- Authorizes GDOT to manage the project and act as SRTA’s agent;
- Authorizes GDOT to provides annual funding for the project, up to $907 million.
Four construction consortiums were placed on GDOT’s short list of firms. GDOT expects to name the best apparent proposer in December. SRTA is to sign a contract with the vendor in January 2016. The notice to proceed is to be issued in February 2016 and the financial closing of the transaction is slated for April, according to GDOT records.
“The $1 billion I-285/SR 400 interchange reconstruction project is the state’s highest transportation infrastructure improvement priority and its most expensive road project ever,” GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry said in a statement. “We appreciate the efforts of our partners including the Federal Highway Administration, the State Road and Tollway Authority, the Atlanta Regional Commission and the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts for their hard work and commitment to move this project along at such a fast pace.”
The consortiums are:
- AWH Roadbuilders, LLC
- Archer Western Contractors, LLC / Hubbard Construction Co.
- Skanska/Balfour Beatty, a Joint Ventures (SBBJV)
- Skanska/Balfour Beatty, a Joint Venture
- Atkins North America, Inc.
- Dragados-Flatiron-Prince JV
- Dragados USA, Inc. / Flatiron Constructors, Inc. / Prince Contracting, LLC
- Figg Stantec JV
- North Perimeter Contractors
- Ferrovial Agroman US Corp
- The Louis Berger Group; Neel Schaffer, Inc.