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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

New Ga. 400/I-285 interchange will save drivers time, money

After the new Ga. 400/I-285 interchange is complete, commuters who regularly travel through it will save the equivalent of a full workday in hours they no longer spend stuck in traffic over the course of a year.

Put another way, the average driver will save about 1 minute and 20 seconds a day, but that will add up to 8 hours per year when the new interchange opens to traffic some time in mid-2020, according to Russell McMurry, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation.

That time savings benefit, multiplied by the 400,000-plus vehicles that traverse the interchange each day, will equal 20,000 hours saved each day in reduced congestion.

It also equates to an annual cost savings of $100 million in time, fuel and other congestion costs, McMurry said.

So will traffic on I-285 and Ga. 400 soon be a thing of the past? Sadly, no. Both interstates will remain congested (it's Atlanta, after all).

However, the project will free up movement in an interchange that's chronically bottlenecked. And more importantly, it will reduce the number of crashes that occur when people weave in and out of traffic to enter or exit the interchange - which has a higher than average crash rate.

After the interchange redesign is finished, many of those weaving maneuvers will take place off the interstate on two-lane access roads that will be built along several miles of I-285 and Ga. 400.

As Atlanta drivers know, the worst traffic tie-ups happen because of wrecks. So any reduction in fender benders will equal a reduction in traffic jams.

(Remember the chaos that ensued when the two trucks plunged off I-285 and fell onto Ga. 400 back in September? Both highways were blocked for hours.)

Maybe that's why McMurry couldn't stop smiling Friday as he spoke about the project at Perimeter Business Alliance luncheon.

For details about the new I-285/Ga. 400 interchange, including the timeline for construction and what it will look like, click here to read more.

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