As part of comprehensive transportation solutions for metro Atlanta, the Perimeter business community has zeroed in on a “Plan B” to accelerate improvements to the I-285 and Ga. 400 interchange. This project of regional significance will help ensure the continued success of one of Georgia’s economic generators: the Central Perimeter business district.
The current interchange has design deficiencies that reduce traffic flow and boost accident rates substantially. With an employment center larger than the downtowns of Nashville or Charlotte, Central Perimeter has a lot at stake in maintaining good access in and out of the market.
The removal of tolls on Ga. 400 is expected to increase evening peak traffic by an estimated 15 percent and reduce traffic speeds by an estimated 55 percent. Population growth will fuel traffic in the corridor as a projected 3 million more residents will call metro Atlanta home in 2040, according to the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC).
The Perimeter Community Improvement Districts (PCIDs) have always addressed challenges with a planning and implementation strategy. Since 1999, the PCIDs have made great strides in creating a more accessible and mobile environment through transportation choice and public-private partnership improvements to market gateways — such as the diverging diamond interchange at Ashford-Dunwoody Road and I-285, and the Hammond Half-Diamond Interchange at Ga. 400.
Now we must focus on the other major need at our doorstep. In the wake of the 2012 T-SPLOST vote, many wondered how Georgia would tackle transportation challenges. One of the first projects to surface was improvements to the I-285 and Ga. 400 interchange, which Gov. Deal identified as a top priority.
The PCIDs launched our strategy to move the interchange forward by reaching across jurisdictional lines to forge the I-285 and Ga. 400 Interchange Partnership. The cities of Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Brookhaven, Chamblee and Doraville passed resolutions naming improvements to the interchange as paramount for the economic future of the top-end I-285 corridor. We plan to expand this partnership to other areas impacted by this interchange.
In December 2012, the ARC Board approved $2 million for planning and scoping for the interchange, which keeps the project under active development and positions it for advancement when the region’s Plan 2040 for transportation is updated this fall.
A new development is the passage of legislation in the Georgia General Assembly that changes the allocation of federal and state funds by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) and the types of projects eligible for design-build.
The community improvement districts are working with GDOT to examine all options for the I-285 and Ga. 400 interchange and what the design concepts can accomplish in both the near and long term. We are partnering with GDOT to move the transportation agenda forward, and to keep Georgia competitive.
Yvonne Williams is president of the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts.