Gridlock Guy: Answers about I-285/Ga. 400 interchange

Last week in this column I introduced you to the new Interstate 285/Ga. 400 interchange proposal. Wanting more information on the project, I along with my colleagues from WSB Radio (Scott Slade, Doug Turnbull and Mark McKay) had the opportunity to have a “question and answer” session with Russell McMurry, chief engineer for the Georgia Department of Transportation. Hopefully these will help you understand the massive project a little better.

Q: Will this project help traffic in the long run on I-285?

A: This project will absolutely relieve congestion in the fact that it separates all the entering and exit movements of traffic along 285 to 400 and 400 to 285 and separates that from the busy 285 and 400 lanes themselves, so it takes all the maneuvering and jockeying for position and separates those off on their own lanes so that 285 can flow smoothly and 400 can flow smoothly.

Q: How will the new ramps help?

A: Those exits and entry points on 285 will happen well east and west of the interchange itself, so you make those maneuvers early on, get people off on separate roadways to make the move to 400 or to 285.

Q: Will it be similar to anything we’ve seen before?

A: It is similar to a smaller scale of 85 in the 316 area. It allows those maneuvers of people entering and exit to happen at a different location and doesn’t cause turbulence or upset the flow of traffic of 285 or 400

Q: How important are the north side interchanges of I-285 to traffic?

A: The three interchanges are the valves that control traffic of the entire northeast section of metro Atlanta. This being right in the middle certainly has a positive effect of that. We’ve got improvements coming with the manage lane project and the northwest corridor project along 75 which will be providing some relief at 75/85 and the 400/85 will ease traffic flowing from 75 around the top end all the way south to 85.

Q: What construction work will be done?

A: There’s actually four miles of work on 285 to accomplish this and there’s another 2 miles of work on 400 to make this happen. When you think about the interchange you think of a bridge and some ramps but the improvement is much more. It also provides improvement along both the 400 and 285 corridors. It’s actually a piece of the puzzle that we’ve been planning on the top end of 285 which is a much bigger project, looking at 85 all the way over to 75.

Q: Why is this project so important?

A: If you don’t build it, you’re further impacting growth ability and supporting the economy of this state, and of course that area has a major impact on the economy.

Q: What is the timetable moving forward?

A: We’ve got an aggressive timetable to work through the environmental and planning progress. We have all of this year and into next year to work through the preliminary conceptual design. The target would be 2016 to get under contract with a design build team. We’re forecasting a three year top construction project.

*Jacob Murphey contributed to this column