The project has had strong support from both chambers of commerce and local governments in Cobb County and its six cities.
Cobb Board of Commissioners Chairman Tim Lee said the additions will relieve congestion and "significantly improve our quality of life by having an alternative transportation mode." Lee said once the project is completed, it will also enhance the Xpress bus service to downtown Atlanta.
"I think that project is absolutely wonderful for Cobb County and the community," Lee said.
Lee said the corridor has been in discussion for many years with a commitment by Gov. Nathan Deal. The Federal Highway Administration has signed a Record of Decision giving final environmental approval to the project, also called the "Northwest Corridor Project," DOT officials announced in June.
The announcement clears the way for rights-of-way acquisition, with the design process starting later this year and construction scheduled to begin in 2014. It is scheduled to open to traffic in 2018.
Deal called the project "a vital part of a system-wide transportation effort to address congestion, mobility and livability concerns in metropolitan Atlanta and the state." The project is the first in the state to be built using the "public-private partnership" model.
The private sector will be responsible for the design, construction and limited financing during the project, and the state will pay that back using toll collections, according to a DOT press release. The Georgia DOT said it will receive proposals from private entities in June for the design, construction and partial financing of the project.