Summer roadwork on tap for I-285, I-75, others

Metro Atlanta drivers are in for heavy summer roadwork, especially in the northern suburbs, as the state’s road budget begins to recover.

The state Department of Transportation’s board on Thursday told DOT staff to put 30 projects worth $144 million out to bid. They include repaving I-285 from Ashford-Dunwoody Road to Spaghetti Junction, repaving Ga. 8 in Gwinnett County from the Dekalb County line to Ronald Reagan Parkway, and replacing the Canton Road Bridge over U.S. 41 in Cobb.

Most of the projects are maintenance. But in a few cases, drivers should wind up with a loosened bottleneck, as with the Roswell road bridge over I-285 in North Fulton County, which is being widened to add turn lanes.

“It’s going to be a challenging summer for metro commuters,” said DOT spokesman David Spear. “We’re just going to see more and more of this; the system’s 50 years-old and just requires a lot more attention.”

Those projects are in addition to work already under way, such as the repaving of I-75 from Brookwood to northern I-285, and other projects that DOT expects to bid out later this spring.

The state DOT plans to put about $900 million worth of projects out to bid this fiscal year, according to figures staff presented to the board. That’s a sign the state transportation budget is recovering somewhat, after years of accounting troubles and a downturn in gas tax collections.

In the last fiscal year, the state put $1 billion of projects out to bid, but about $645 million of that was from the one-time federal stimulus, DOT reported last year.

Although the state's financial picture may be stabilizing, rumblings from Washington have transportation planners on guard. The budget under discussion in Congress could make deep cuts to transportation spending nationwide. Recently federal transportation spending has been supplemented with general tax money, but that could end, Georgia DOT officials told their board Thursday.

That could mean a 20-25 percent cut in Georgia’s federal road funds, according to DOT Treasurer Kate Pfirman. If so, $200 million to $300 million per year in road projects that are promised for the fiscal year 2012 and beyond would have to be cut or postponed.

At MARTA, the worst case scenario could mean cuts of $25 million to $35 million and fare hikes, said Knox O'Callaghan, MARTA's grant programs director, and spokesman Lyle Harris.  They emphasized the proposals are still in flux and that MARTA executives were in Washington lobbying for a better outcome.

DOT’s planning director, Todd Long, called the cuts under discussion potentially a “huge” disruption to state roadwork. Depending on how Congress dictated the cuts be laid out, “It’s not just projects” on the cutting board, “it’s across the board, maintenance projects, safety projects,” he said. “We’ll have to go back and reshuffle the whole deck."

Traffic barrels coming

The state Department of Transportation's board on Thursday told staff to put $144 million worth of projects out to bid, including the following projects.  Some estimates may be old, and true costs won't be known until the bids come in.

Gwinnett County

  • Repaving Ga. 8 from Dekalb county line to Ronald Reagan parkway,$2.7 million

DeKalb County

  • Repaving I-285 from Ashford-Dunwoody Road to Chamblee Tucker Road,$29 milli0n -- $44 million
  • Repaving Ga. 155 from Henry County Line to Snapfinger Road$1.1 million

North Fulton County

  • Widening the Roswell Road bridge over I-285, $3.5 million

South Fulton county

  • Installing fiberoptic cable and CCTV cameras along Old National Highway$740,000


  • Replacing Canton Road bridge over U.S. 41, and a railroad bridge, and realigning Industrial Park Drive/Elizabeth Street where they intersect with Canton Road and U.S. 41. $13.4 million

Henry County

  • Intersection improvement for Ga. 42 at Harris Drive, $520,000

Source:  GDOT