Spinning our Wheels

Spinning our Wheels is a commuting blog about the challenges of getting around Atlanta by car, bus, MARTA, bicycles and on foot written by transportation reporter David Wickert

How will emergency vehicles access the new I-75 express lanes?

As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last week, the state will open new express lanes on I-75 in Clayton and Henry counties this weekend.

The two lanes are reversible – they’ll carry traffic into Atlanta in the morning and out of town in the afternoon. And they’ll cost you 10 cents to 90 cents a mile (you have to have a Peach Pass to use them).

One novel feature of the lanes: They’ll run smack down the middle of I-75, between the existing north and south lanes. They’ll be separated by barriers from those lanes, and drivers can only enter or exit the express lanes at a few points over the 11.5-mile stretch.

Which begs the questions: What happens if there’s a wreck on the express lanes? How will emergency vehicles reach it?

Relax. The Georgia Department of Transportation says it’s thought of that.

On a media tour of the lanes last week, GDOT spokeswoman Jill Goldberg said there are emergency access gates along the express lanes. Ambulances and other emergency vehicles can use those gates to reach injured motorists and clear accidents. With the gates and regular exits, emergency vehicles can access the express lanes about every half mile.

In addition, GDOT Highway Emergency Response Operators (HEROs) will patrol the lanes 24 hours a day, Goldberg said. They can remove debris, direct traffic and open the emergency gates for first responders.

Finally, the department also has held more than 20 training exercises with local first responders on how to handle accidents and other problems on the lanes. They’ve even identified spots for medical transport helicopters to land, if needed.

You can read more about the new I-75 South Metro Express lanes here.

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About the Author

David Wickert covers transportation issues for the Enterprise team. He joined the AJC in 2010 and has also covered local government in Gwinnett and Fulton counties.