The Governor Approved Road Enhancements For the Next 10 Years

Governor Nathan Deal and the state DOT's leadership recently unveiled a myriad of projects that will be built with the $900 million per year allotment that was voted in by legislators. There are 45 road-widening projects on GA state highways. Important freight corridors such as US27 in the west Georgia and US 441 in the east will finally be fully widened into four lanes.

The transformation will be the most stunning in metro Atlanta. There are plans to see some $11.5 billion in new construction. Express lanes, like the ones currently that are currently  being built on I-75 and I-575, will be built across the entire top half of I-285. The plans call for rebuilding both interchanges of I-20 and I-285 to meet much larger traffic demands. There will also be new express lanes on GA 400, I-285N to McGinnis Ferry Road. Together, these projects will create a North Side Network of optional toll lanes. That will benefit commuters in their cars, who can pay to use the new lanes when they need them. Because the new lanes have tolls, they are unlikely, on their own, to create more traffic than they relieve, a common complaint when roads are widened. The 285 toll lanes will also make true rapid transit by bus possible between MARTA's stations at Hamilton E Holmes, Dunwoody, Doraville and Indian Creek, plus the Cumberland Mall area and the new Braves stadium.

There are also plans to add unrolled lanes on I-85 north of 985, and truck-only lanes between McDonough and Macon. In short, the new money will give us all the road construction we can possibly stand for the next 10 years.

It is not that maintenance needs that were being shortchanged. It is rather that they were overstated during last year's push to secure new funding, as anyone paying close attention could see. The Georgia Department of Transportation, GDOT, always said it needed to boost funding each year by $603.5 million more over the next four years, than they did over the past four. Aside from the use of express lanes for buses, you won't see anything here for transit. That shouldn't  come as a surprise. This new money plan was sold as going to roads and bridges. MARTA has expansion plans that will cost billions more, and we're likely to see legislation this year toward that end. An altogether state officials, while increasingly supportive of transit, said from the start that was a second track that would need a different pot of money.

While doubters about the new adequacy of new money were unfounded, a more understandable doubt was that it wouldn't be well-spent. If these projects are built, that one will turn out to have been wrong, too.