Mark Arum: Gridlock Guy

- The introduction of and eventual acceptance of the I-85 HOT-Express Lanes.

- The transformation of the Ga. 400 shoulder lane between Holcomb Bridge Road and the North Springs Marta Station. The success of this project makes it almost a certainty that it will spread to other freeways around the area.

- The Diverging Diamond Interchange on Ashford Dunwoody Road at I-285 in DeKalb County. An outside-the-box solution to gridlock that will soon be appearing in Gwinnett County.

- The upcoming TSPLOST vote. The grandaddy of them all. A wide-reaching proposal that would impact roadways and transit throughout the region.

The latest project on the horizon is a big one. The request for qualifications for firms interested in designing and building the "Northwest Corridor" project along Interstates I-75 and I-575 in Cobb and Cherokee counties has been sent out by the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The proposed project would build two, new lanes on the west side of I-75 between I-575 and I-285. These two lanes would be free-standing, built apart from the existing lanes on I-75.

They would basically be express lanes for I-75 commuters. During morning drive the lanes would be for southbound travelers only heading between I-575 and I-285. During the afternoon rush hour the lanes would switch to northbound lanes carrying commuters from I-285 to I-575.

North of I-575 on I-75, the project will add one new reversible lane between Hickory Grove Road and I-575. There will also be a lane added to I-575 between I-75 and Sixes Road in Cherokee County.

The lanes once completed, would become variable toll rate lanes, much like the I-85 HOT Express Lanes in Gwinnett and DeKalb counties that operate now.

The Georgia Department of Transportation expects the cost of the project to be somewhere between $750-$800 million dollars. It won't be an overnight transformation. The DOT hopes activities would begin in the summer of 2014, with project completion and open to traffic in the spring of 2018.

The question is, what will this mean to traffic along the northwest corridor?

I have no doubt, that if this project comes to fruition, traffic will improve for commuters on I-75 and I-575. I like the idea of "express lanes" along side existing freeways. If you can shift commuters that are going between I-575 and I-285 on I-75 southbound out of the regular lanes and into their own dedicated lanes traffic can help but to get better. Much like express trains, these new lanes will take you from Point A to Point B without any local stops. Express trains are very popular for commuters in major metropolitan areas, as I think, will these interstate express lanes be here in metro Atlanta.

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