Ga. DOT to build first truck-only lanes on congested I-75 North

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Interstate 75 heading into Atlanta.Interstate 75 heading into Atlanta.

The Georgia Department of Transportation is moving forward with plans to create interstate lanes designated solely for commercial vehicles. The truck-only lane project would be the first of its kind in the United States, GDOT says.

GDOT plans to hire a general engineering consultant by the end of 2018 to manage the project development and seek public input during the environmental process, with construction beginning in 2025, according to GDOT Planning Director Jay Roberts.

Two commercial-vehicle-only lanes would be added to northbound Interstate 75/475 from Macon to McDonough, southeast of Atlanta, at a cost of $1.8 billion. The 40 miles of non-tolled lanes would have their own entrances and exits and be separated from the regular travel lanes by a barrier. GDOT estimates the lanes will reduce delays 40 percent on I-75 North in 2030.

GDOT said it chose the location of the lanes because of the heavy truck traffic coming from the Port of Savannah and from trucks entering the state delivering products.

“These commercial vehicle lanes would be the first of their kind in the United States,” writes Roberts in GDOT’s “The Extra Mile Blog.”

“While short segments of truck-only lanes exit some ports in California and New Jersey, nowhere are there commercial vehicle lanes of the magnitude planned in Georgia.”

The state of Arizona is also planning for truck-only lanes in Nogales near the U.S.-Mexico border, where 350,000 trucks cross the border each year. That project is much smaller than the Georgia project. It is part of a $134 million plan to improve safety on State Route 189 and Interstate 19 at the Mariposa Port of Entry. The state recently received a $25 million federal grant for the lanes, which would be separated from regular travel lanes.

GDOT expects truck traffic to double by 2040 on the busy I-75 North corridor, as the Port of Savannah continues to expand. The Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is also expanding cargo operations, and the state’s population continues to grow, Roberts notes.

GDOT says the lanes will have fewer entrance and exit points than regular lanes and will not affect exits and entrances for noncommercial traffic. Access points for the commercial lanes are still being considered.

Funding for the lanes comes from the $11 billion Major Mobility Investment Program funded by the state legislature in 2015.

“Taking truck traffic off I-75’s three general purpose lanes not only decreases congestion by freeing up those lanes for passenger vehicles, it also provides a huge safety benefit by eliminating the interaction between passenger vehicles and commercial trucks,” writes Roberts.