After more than a decade as one of south metro Atlanta’s worst traffic logjams, relief is coming in 2018 to the intersection of Camp Creek Parkway and I-285.
By the end of next summer, the state Department of Transportation is expected to begin reconstructing the interchange as a “diverging diamond” — a reconfiguration of the road that makes it easier to make left turns onto interstates and move traffic faster, south metro officials said.
The more than $8 million project is the latest in a string of “diverging diamonds” constructed in metro Atlanta, including “diamonds” at Ashford Dunwoody in DeKalb County, Jimmy Carter Boulevard in Gwinnett County and Windy Hill Road in Cobb County. But it is expected to take about 18 months to complete and exacerbate delays on Camp Creek when lanes are closed for the work.
“It’s going to be a little messy and we want everyone to have a little patience,” said Nancy Martin, chairwoman of the Aerotropolis Atlanta Community Improvement Districts, one of several groups involved in the project “But it’s going to be for the good.”
The re-imagining of the Camp Creek Parkway/I-285 interchange is a long-sought dream for business leaders, motorists and officials alike. In addition to the GDOT and the CID for Aerotropolis — a business group focusing on promoting development around Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport — other participants include East Point, Atlanta and Fulton and Clayton counties.
Camp Creek Marketplace — home to dozens of well-known retailers, including Target, Lowe’s and Marshalls — has become a shopping destination for south metro residents who used to have to travel to Cobb County’s Cumberland area for merchandise and dining.
However, the popularity of the marketplace has led to bottlenecks that make going just 500 feet an ordeal, officials admitted.
“The diverging diamond is a much-needed addition to the Camp Creek community and will add welcome traffic alleviating measures to the area,” East Point Mayor Jannquell Peters said in a statement.
For south metro business leaders, the fix can’t come soon enough. They have argued that the area’s congestion has hurt efforts to convince some employers to think of Camp Creek as a business location.
“A lot of times we bring in the amenities, but we don’t think about the capacity that will come with it and how the roads need to be adjusted,” said Martin, who also is an assistant vice president for the Atlanta office of Duke Realty, which leases close to 3 million square feet of office space in the area.
“The traffic can be bumper to bumper and take 20 minutes just to get to the interstate,” she said.
In addition to the shopping, Camp Creek is home to logistics, sorting and distribution centers for Amazon, Clorox, Dicks Sporting Goods and ADT, as well as being an access point for Hartsfield-Jackson.
Construction of the Camp Creek “diverging diamond” will follow on the heels of other infrastructure improvements in the area. In 2014, Washington Road was extended to I-285 to provide an alternative route to reach Camp Creek. Construction also is expected to begin next year on a circle or “roundabout” on Camp Creek near the Chick-fil-A restaurant.
“We’re trying to get traffic get in and out of that restaurant,” said Vance Burgess, an attorney for the Atlanta-based chain whose corporate offices are nearby on Buffington Road. “If you’ve ever tried getting a sandwich at that restaurant, it’s busy and hard to maneuver.”
To help residents and motorists prepare, the Aerotropolis Atlanta CID will distribute fliers to businesses and homes with alternate routes around the construction to try to minimize the disruption, said Gerald McDowell, executive director of the group.
Shannon James, the incoming chairman of Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance, said the long-term goal is to build up south metro Atlanta and the area around the airport as a business hub.
“What we’re trying to do is not only retain businesses that we have in that area, we’re trying to attract more,” he said. “We’re trying to attract a diverse core of companies and entities both domestic and international and in order to do so, logistics is key. People have to feel that ingress and egress is not a headache.”
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