I-20, the West Freeway, finally getting a makeover​

Mark Arum is off this week. Doug Turnbull is the PM drive airborne anchor for Triple Team Traffic on News 95-5 FM and AM-750 WSB and writes how own traffic blog on wsbradio.com.

Regular commuters on Interstate 20 anywhere between Lithia Springs and downtown Atlanta are officially allowed to get as excited as Steve Martin did when the phone books arrived in “The Jerk.”

The Georgia Department of Transportation announced the almost $40 million repaving project of that stretch of road two weeks ago. You may have noticed the numerous lane closures on I-20/eastbound and westbound near Interstate 285 and Fulton Industrial Boulevard the last two weekends — and the delays.

Crews will often have to block multiple lanes in at least one direction on I-20 for the paving project, triggering nasty backups. Take Ga. 78 as an alternate to that slow corridor when these closures are in place. GDOT says they plan to pave only during overnights and weekends, so at least there is some reprieve during the daylight hours Monday through Friday. But the off-hours jams are likely to ensnare many I-20 regulars.

There is not one interstate that we get more complaints about than I-20 between Six Flags and I-285. For starters, the I-20/I-285 interchange in Fulton County has a strange design that causes some ramps to merge in and exit from the left lanes, which is confusing and also slows the fast lanes. Also the I-20/eastbound ramps to I-285 routinely stack up as people weave over at the last second to take those ramps on the right hand side. It’s a mess.

GDOT plans to help remedy the latter problem by the end of 2016, when the project is set to finish.

“Delineators will separate traffic exiting onto I-285, from traffic continuing east on I-20,” Kathy Zahul, GDOT’s Metro District engineer, said in a press release. “The new configuration will require motorists to make a lane decision earlier, thus reducing late weaving maneuvers and enhancing safety.”

And, hopefully, decreasing some delays.

GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry says the delineators will be like those plastic posts that protect the HOT lane in the I-85/Ga. 316 interchange. If you choose to switch lanes early, you’re probably going to damage your car.

The biggest plus for commuters is finally brand new pavement with no potholes. Time has taken its toll on the West Freeway, opening up some gaping holes in that same area near I-285. Crews constantly fill them in, but they open again. GDOT has not had the funding allocated to this area to fix this problem for good with a repave until now.

Resurfacing is a necessary part of any road’s life cycle, but especially the Metro Atlanta interstate system. High travel volume means our busiest roads need repaving every few years. I-20 on the west side is very much overdue and we will have to pay with not only money, but time spent in the backups.

Do yourself a favor and check with the WSB Traffic Team as you plan your I-20 trips on the weekends. Look up the traffic conditions or hear the most recent report on the WSB Radio app and wsbradio.com. Then listen live for updates 24/7 on News 95.5/AM750 WSB. If you do that, you will know whether to say the course on I-20 or take an alternate. And you will gain some of that time back.