Gridlock Guy: Biggest piece and biggest change of GA-400/I-285 project opens

GDOT construction crews will reduce the number of lanes on the I-285 westbound exit ramp to Roswell Road beginning at 9 p.m. March 5 through 5 a.m. March 7. (Courtesy GDOT)

GDOT construction crews will reduce the number of lanes on the I-285 westbound exit ramp to Roswell Road beginning at 9 p.m. March 5 through 5 a.m. March 7. (Courtesy GDOT)

The Transform GA-400/I-285 project has seen some big interruptions and a few new ramps open in the last four years. As the major interchange-rebuild enters the stretch run — its completion is set for the end of this year — a major new ramp that defines the sector’s refurb opens.

A brand new collector-distributor ramp from I-285/westbound (Outer Loop) to Roswell Road (Exit 25) opens Monday at around 5 a.m. This opening comes on the heels of the GA-400 ramps to I-285/westbound closing — the northbound ramp for multiple days — to allow the CD ramp’s completion.

Update: Georgia DOT announced just after 11 a.m. Sunday that the new exit to Roswell Road is already open.

“The more we see these larger pieces open — like the collector-distributor lane, like some of these new ramps — that is just us getting part of the completed picture here,” GDOT spokesperson Natalie Dale explained on the latest WSB Traffic Podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay and me.

That CD ramp, the first of several planned for the revamped interchange, will force traffic heading to Roswell Road to channel over and make that decision miles earlier. “If you are on I-285/westbound,” Dale said. “You are going to need to make that decision pretty significantly earlier.”

How much earlier? The new I-285/westbound (Outer Loop) CD exit ramp to Roswell Road will begin just after Peachtree Dunwoody Road (Exit 28)...nearly three miles earlier, forcing drivers on the Northside Perimeter to commit to the exit well before they are used to. This CD ramp system is designed to force local traffic to commit to the exiting side of a freeway earlier, freeing up the left lanes for express traffic that is passing through that area. This prevents the dangerous and delay-inducing traffic weaves and lane changes that have plagued this heavily congested area.

Collector-Distributor lane from Peachtree Dunwoody Road to Roswell Road. (Courtesy Georgia DOT)

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“If you miss the new Roswell Road exit... then you’re going to have to go all the way to Riverside, turn around and go eastbound to access Roswell Road. You don’t wanna do that certainly more than once,” Dale said.

“Get off to the right at exit 29, Ashford Dunwoody Road,” McKay said on the podcast, adding that if Roswell Road-bound drivers get to GA-400, then they have gone too far. McKay also recommends taking GA-400/northbound to Abernathy Road (Exit 5) for people that miss the new, early Roswell Road CD exit. They then can take Abernathy west over to Roswell Road or even take GA-400/southbound to Glenridge (Exit 3) and then over to Roswell Road.

A slip ramp to I-285/westbound is built into this new CD ramp to allow drivers coming off of GA-400 and from Glenridge Drive to get onto I-285/westbound without having to wait at the traffic lights on the Roswell Road ramp. This is similar to how the I-85/I-285 (Spaghetti Junction) interchange operates in DeKalb County.

Whether driving in this area for the first time after the Roswell Road ramp’s relocation or traveling in this tricky work zone daily, drivers need to remain absolutely alert.

“Just be careful when traveling in that area,” McKay said. “You’ve got a lot of folks that are in and out [of the right lanes], workers in and out of those travel lanes and, of course, motorists.”

“This is a very active work zone,” Dale said of the constant changes and closures in the area. “You have to, number one, slow down. This is a work zone, people are working. We have had some significant, dangerous issues for our people working in this area. Pay attention, stay off your phone. This is an ever-changing, ever-evolving interchange.” Dale added, “You have to be the best version of the driver you are.”

Confusion about the new CD ramp’s location and future closures in this zone are sure to cause delays for the rest of this year. We haven’t even begun to talk about an extended, weeks-long closure of some I-285 lanes in the area in the next couple of months that will allow for some bridge rebuilds. So listen for live Triple Team Traffic updates around the clock on 95.5 WSB and plan your commute by leaving the Triple Team Traffic Alerts App open while driving, to get automatic audio reports from Atlanta’s best traffic team.

Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also hosts a traffic podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on Contact him at