Karlene Barron, department director of communications, and Loren Bartlett, project manager, said the project will be named the I-75 South Metro Express Lanes and will include 12 miles of newly constructed roadway lanes between Ga. 155, McDonough Road, and Ga. 138, Stockbridge Highway.
The express lanes will be constructed within the median of existing roadways and will be reversible to allow traffic to travel northbound in the morning and southbound in the evening with traffic flow being adjusted for special events that normally cause congestion such as NASCAR races and spring break travel.
Much like on the express lanes on I-85, drivers who use the lanes will need to purchase a Peach Pass, but transit buses will be able to access the lanes at no charge.
Bartlett said the benefits of the lanes include improved mobility, reliability, greater choice and economic viability.
“The lanes provide a way for drivers to bypass congestion when needed, more predictable trip times to offer greater control over driving times and the use of tolling allows the state to offset capital costs, maintenance and operations,” she said.
“This will also support economic development by enhancing the region’s infrastructure and supports business viability and growth which has shown proven performance on I-85 express lanes, which have been highly successful.”
For now, Barron said, the focus of the project is to build public awareness and support for the program.
“Our outreach goals include providing as much information as we can about the lanes and in doing so, gaining support of the usage of the express lanes and Peach Pass through education about the system and its benefits,” she said. “We want to provide customer-focused communications to build understanding for the express lanes as an innovative and effective transportation solution and highlight the various programs and transit services that integrate with the express lanes.”
The department also asked the county to provide website links on their websites and social media sites so that the public can easily access information, newsletters, blogs and updates about the ongoing project directly.
The project is in the design phase, but the department is expected to break ground in October.
Construction will take about two years with the lanes expected to be open and operational in 2016.