This week, the Georgia Department of Transportation (Georgia DOT) joined the Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority (ATL), the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) and four metro Atlanta counties in the most significant partnership agreement in decades. With the signing of the I-285 Top End Express Lanes Transit Funding and Collaboration Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), multimodal solutions along I-285 will be advanced creating regional connectivity that will have positive economic development benefits.
The I-285 Express Lanes, part of Georgia DOT’s Major Mobility Investment Program (MMIP) projects, will add two new barrier-separated lanes along the top end of I-285 in both directions from I-20 on the west to I-20 on the east. In addition, transit services and vanpools will have free access creating a significant opportunity for the advancement of Express Lanes Transit (ELT).
The memorandum’s signing on May 11, 2022, included partners who represented MARTA, ARC, and metro Atlanta’s four largest counties, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett. Signatories included:
- Lisa Cupid, Chairwoman, Cobb County Board of Commissioners
- Michael Thurmond, CEO, DeKalb County
- Robb Pitts, Chairman, Fulton County Board of Commissioners
- Nicole Hendrickson, Chairwoman, Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners
- Anna Roach, Executive Director, ARC
- Chris Tomlinson, Executive Director, ATL
- Russell R. McMurry, P.E., Commissioner, Georgia DOT (represented by Kevin Abel, State Transportation Board Member and Chair of Georgia DOT’s P3 Committee)
- Collie Greenwood, Interim GM & CEO, MARTA.
Incorporation of ELT into the department’s I-285 Express Lanes has been championed by a coalition of cities and community improvement districts (CIDs) along the northern segment of I-285, where more than 240,000 vehicles travel every weekday. The express lanes are expected to greatly reduce congestion in the region for motorists, while also increasing on-time transit performance and accessibility.
“Georgia DOT is proud to unite with these important partners to truly advance multimodal solutions along I-285 with this ambitious plan,” said Georgia DOT Commissioner Russell McMurry. “Transit along the I-285 corridor has to be part of our solution. This significant and historic opportunity for our region enables this crucial mobility expansion and Georgia DOT is eager to be part of the process.”
In June 2021, Georgia DOT announced updates to the project delivery model and scope for the express lanes projects along I-285. Under the previous plan, only one, barrier-separated express lane would be built along the western and eastern walls of I-285. The revised model allows the department to increase capacity with two, barrier-separated, dedicated express lanes in each direction along the entire northern half of I-285. This adjustment provides additional capacity and enhanced safety for motorists and transit vehicles.
“This historic opportunity allows us to keep up with the pace of growth in metro Atlanta providing more options and enhanced mobility choices for our motorists,” said State Transportation Board Member Kevin Abel. “The I-285 Express Lanes developer(s) will be required to be responsive to future ELT infrastructure and investment in support of this MOU.”
More information about the I-285 Express Lanes projects can be found at https://majormobilityga.com/i-285-express-lanes/.