ATLANTA — Billions of dollars in new spending on highways around metro Atlanta might make a dent in the city’s thickening traffic. At least, that’s the hope state officials expressed Thursday as the top Department of Transportation official laid it out for lawmakers.
Interstate-285 is a basket case, especially at its interchanges with other interstate highways. Two of those junctions are part of the short-term plan for highway improvement.
Jackson Webster has driven a truck around Atlanta for 10 years and says I-285’s two connections with I-20 are two of the worst.
"On that third lane," Jackson said, "everybody’s trying to fight – or cheat – to get in front of everybody else."
Those junctions are on the DOT’s short list for repairs.
The most visible metro Atlanta project underway is at Georgia 400 and I-285 – a project expected to conclude by the end of this year.
Another widening project on I-85 northeast of Atlanta is expected to finish the third quarter of next year.
On I-285, the state starts, this year, to rebuild its interchange on the DeKalb County side of I-20 and hopes to finish in two years in 2025. The opposite side of the perimeter also gets a rebuild, though the state won’t take bids on it until next year.
On I-75 from Henry County to just north of Macon, the state plans to build commercial lanes only for trucks alongside the existing interstate – to provide some relief for northbound traffic by 2031.
DOT commissioner Russell McMurry told lawmakers the 41 miles of new highway alongside the old highway will cost some $2 billion.
Truck driver Jarvis Carlisle said it would be enough it the project could be built instantly. But "if you don’t fix it overnight, by the time you get there, you’ve outgrown that," he laughed.