“With a number of wet days that we’ve had and some of these unusually cold days and the fact that the bridge is made out of concrete and it’s very difficult to do concrete work when it’s real wet and real cold, … we pushed [the completion date] back,” he said. “We also changed the staging for the contractor on the Buford-Spring Connector. We did not allow them to keep a lane closure in as long as they had planned to, because we weren’t happy with the traffic patterns. So as a result of that, that kind of pushed things back a little bit as well.”
The project was originally scheduled for completion Dec. 31. In late December, GDOT spokeswoman Karlene Barron told the Neighbor Newspapers the project was on track for completion by the first week of February.
“Of course it is a high-speed corridor, so we want to be sure that everything is completely finished and completely safe and ready to go before we put traffic on it,” McKinnon said.
The $22.5 million development began construction in July 2011, nearly two decades after 400’s $82.1 million extension south from I-285 to I-85 opened in August 1993.
The current project completes the connectivity of the earlier one. Once opened, ramps will allow motorists traveling south on 400 to merge onto I-85 northbound and those traveling south on I-85 to connect to 400 northbound without having to get off the highway and sit in surface street traffic.
Buckhead Coalition President Sam Massell said the completion of the interchange project will be a major win for the community.
“No. 1, it will greatly improve the flow of traffic on Ga. 400 and Interstate 85, because [motorists] won’t have to slow up to get off and on,” he said. “When you improve the flow of traffic, you decrease accidents and you decrease pollution, so that’s a major benefit on Ga. 400 and on Interstate 85.”
Massell also said the project will decrease the congestion on nearby surface streets, such as Sidney Marcus Boulevard, Buford Highway and Piedmont Road. Regarding the delay of its completion, he said it is better to wait and make sure everything is safe.
“We’ve waited 20-something years, so waiting another few months is acceptable,” he said.
As the road work continues, McKinnon said there will be some minimal lane closures.
“Any time we have lane closures up out there we try to put the electronic signs out, and we make sure that folks are well aware of what’s going on ahead of time,” he said.