Happily, I have an idea they can steal. It still involves hoisting lanes into the sky, just not above the Connector.
What I mean is a western bypass of downtown built above U.S. 41: from just before the Brookwood Interchange where I-75 merges with I-85 on the north side, all the way down to where the interstates diverge again near Cleveland Avenue.
Two lanes in each direction, built above a mostly commercial and industrial area and leaving existing east-west streets undisturbed. Very few exits, to prevent adding traffic to the area below and reserve the new expressway as a true downtown bypass. A measure of roadway redundancy in a region that doesn’t have much of that, as commuters are painfully aware each time a wreck shuts down all or most of a major artery.
Based on the cost per lane-mile of the managed lanes being built on 75 and 575, much of which are also elevated, this 10-mile road might be built for less than $900 million. Not bad, compared with that $300 million for covering three-quarters of a mile over the Connector.
Such a project would add much-needed north-south capacity through town. It would also allow for a great deal of flexibility in shaping transportation policy.
The corridor could be a preferred roadway for autonomous vehicles as they come online, separating them from most other vehicles passing through town. It could offer an additional route for transit vehicles connecting the northern suburbs with the airport.
And because the Connector will eventually need toll lanes to complete the region’s growing network of managed lanes, a western bypass would also allow the state to add them without reducing the number of “free” lanes available.
Atlanta is often drawn to big ideas like “The Stitch.” The problems such ideas create deserve big solutions of their own.