That’s the message a state Department of Transportation official gave Wednesday at a Chamber luncheon at The Georgian Club.
The toll rate for the 29.7-mile road project has yet to be set by the State Road and Tollway Authority, but it will fluctuate depending on traffic. The goal is to have a speed limit of about 45 miles per hour, said Darryl VanMeter, administrator of GDOT’s Innovative Program Delivery Office.
The new lanes are projected to reduce travel time by 8 to 16 minutes on the general purpose lanes that will not be tolled. Trip times on the tolled lanes will be reduced by 34 to 52 minutes, he said.
The project will build two new, reversible lanes along the west side of I-75 between its interchanges with I-285 and I-575. The lanes will be separated from the existing interstate lanes by a barrier and will carry traffic south during morning commute hours and north in the evenings. North of the I-575 interchange, one new, reversible barrier-separated lane will be added in the I-75 center median to Hickory Grove Road, and a similar new lane will extend along I-575 to Sixes Road.
The project is being paid with $300 million in state gasoline taxes carried over from previous years, $236 million from a federal and state match, and a $270 million federal loan. In addition, the selected contractor will finance at least 10 percent of the estimated design-build cost of $750 to $820 million. That money will be repaid with bonds upon project completion, he said.
Right-of-way costs are $26 million.
The next step is for the state agency to select the contractor, which is scheduled for July.
Glenn Christian, chairman of the Vinings Business Association, applauded the project.
“I’m excited about it because this is such a great area to live in and a great area to do business in. That’s why we’re so congested,” Christian said. “I think we have a lot to offer at the low tax rate, the low cost of living and the great benefits of living in this community, so everybody is attracted to Cobb County, so to improve the transportation flow can only improve the overall standard of living that we provide in Cobb County.”
Judson Langley of Kennesaw, a senior vice president with Bank of North Georgia, who chairs the Cumberland Area Council, also expressed enthusiasm for the project.
“From seeing the video of the concept, it helps you understand how it can be impactful on the traffic because we know the traffic congests every morning heading south and every evening heading north, and I’ve been on those commutes all the way down into Atlanta for a number of years, so to me I think any type of addition like this would have a positive impact,” Langley said.
VanMeter gave his presentation to the Cumberland Area Council of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce.