With one of the most congested metropolitan areas in the nation and a stretch of highway leading into it that is one of busiest trucking corridors, and expectations that both of these conditions to get substantially worse, the Georgia Department of Transportation have gone outside the lines to come up with a way to hopefully ease a future traffic nightmare.
GDOT announced in early February it is in the preliminary planning stages on a project to build what amounts to a 40-mile commercial-trucks-only highway. The project would run alongside northbound I-75 from I-475 near Macon to McDonough, just south of Atlanta.
John Hibbard, GDOT operations director, says that the truck-only highway, which will be toll-free, will be the first of its kind in the United States. A barrier will separate the truck lanes from the general traffic lanes, and the truck lanes will have their own ramps.
The truck-only lanes have been proposed as a solution to reducing congestion. Transportation analytics firm INRIX rated Atlanta the fourth-most congested city in America, after Los Angles, New York and San Francisco.
State transportation officials say they that with the expansion of the Panama Canal and the deepening of the Port of Savannah, along with other changes in transportation demand, truck traffic is expected to double by 2040.
The project’s projected price tag is $1.8 billion. Published reports says much of that money is already in place thanks to a gas tax passed in 2015 aimed at transportation projects.
GDOT officials expect to select a general engineering consultant by the end of 2018. Construction isn’t expected to begin until 2025, with the lanes opening for traffic in 2029.