DOT study to focus on perimeter

LAWRENCEVILLE - If anyone has a solution to the traffic on Interstate 285, Adam Stone is willing to listen. The Cobb County man who commutes to work in Lawrenceville every day either leaves his home before the sun rises or faces the impending traffic-laden commute.

Now, the Georgia Department of Transportation wants to find ways to clear the congestion between Interstates 75 and 85 along I-285 - the connection for two of the region's largest suburban job centers.

While I-285 was originally designed as a bypass for downtown Atlanta, growth around the city has caused the interstate to become a point-to-point road instead of a bypass. This shift in usage and overall increase in demand is especially prevalent within the northern corridor, officials said.

Stone agreed.

"Two-eighty-five has always been difficult, but it is getting to a point where it's impassable," he said, chatting on his cell phone while stuck in traffic. "It's long overdue a study."

The initiative from the DOT and the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority will identify and develop comprehensive long-range transportation projects across the northern I-285 corridor

"This is going to be a very large and complex undertaking," GDOT Chief Engineer David Studstill said. "This new approach, focused on overall corridor improvement through environmental strategies, will have to address near-term and mid-term needs while looking 30 years into the future and anticipating transportation demands for the mid-21st century."

While I-285 does not touch Gwinnett County's borders, local Transportation Director Brian Allen said it has a tremendous impact on county residents.

"There's not an easy way to get here from Marietta. ... A lot of our folks work in the Perimeter area. There are people from Cobb County who work in Lawrenceville or Duluth," he said. "Although (285) is not in our county, our residents are affected by it everyday. It's becoming more difficult to get across the region."

Georgia DOT selected Arcadis, G&M Inc. to serve as prime consultant for the project. The team will develop and deliver critical research, environmental analysis and documentation that will allow officials to move to final design and construction of projects along the corridor.

"In finalizing these concepts for specific interchanges and projects, we will evaluate the entire corridor's requirements within the framework of this study and will consider innovative construction and financing techniques to expedite the construction of these projects," Studstill said.

The comprehensive I-285 corridor initiative will include a significant public involvement plan that will contain a project Web site, public meetings, public opinion research and public outreach. The effort is aimed at actively gathering data and input from the corridor's users.