The Georgia Department of Transportation announced on July 7 that a $176.2 million contract has been awarded to a Georgia company to build 12 miles of variable-rate toll lanes on Interstate-75 between State Rate 155/McDonough Road and SR 138/Stockbridge Highway in Henry and Clayton counties.
“This project is going to provide trip time reliability and mobility options on this portion of the Interstate Highway System in Metropolitan Atlanta by adding much-needed new capacity,” GDOT Commissioner Keith Golden said in a press release. “Traffic has been increasingly problematic in this corridor and the growth of Atlanta’s Southside is only going to continue. This project will help accommodate that growth and contribute to the economic prosperity of the region.
“Well in excess of 100,000 vehicles, including both commuters and thousands of tractor trailers passing through Atlanta, utilize this corridor each day,” Golden added. “These Express Lanes will benefit both the commuters and the through traffic and, as one of the first components of the Department’s metro-wide managed lanes network, will offer a glimpse of the improved mobility options coming to all of Metro Atlanta.”
Local residents were not sure about more toll road though, but felt it would be more acceptable if it added lanes.
“It would be less controversial and maybe more acceptable if they build an additional lane to toll verses stealing a lane like they did on 85,” Jeff Timler wrote on the Monroe-GA Patch Facebook page.
According to the press release, plans are to add two lanes in fact, both in the center median from SR 138 to just north of SR 20. Another reversible lane, also in the center median, will be added from that point to SR 155 in Henry County. The lanes will be separated by barriers and will be reversible, carrying traffic northbound in the mornings and southbound in afternoons and evenings. The lanes also will be accessible at I 675, near SR 20 as well as at Jonesboro Road, according to the release.
The tolls will be collected through the State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA). Motorists can choose to participate in SRTA’s Peach Pass program, which uses remote transponders to assess variable-rate tolls based on traffic volumes, as is the case on I-85. This gives motorists the option to use the express lanes, or not.
But not everybody is happy that any tolls at all are being used to pay for new roads.
“They have no right to use the roads we paid for years ago, and now that they don’t want to cut back, they will take more from us,” Ray Shutley wrote on Facebook. “How much will we have when they get through with taxes and toll roads? Government has lost its way and it is time we stop them.”
GDOT announced that the contract has been awarded to C.W. Matthews Contracting Co., Inc., of Marietta, and will begin later this year. It is scheduled to be open by the end of 2016. Information on lane closures due to construction will be issued as and when they occur.
Detailed information on these and other projects in the Department’s June bid awards is available via Award Announcement Download at https://www.bidx.com/ga/letting?lettingid=13062101. This and other future SRTA toll projects can be found at http://www.georgiatolls.com/programs/future-toll-projects.